Why Was Sarai So Beautiful? – 5783 Lech Lecha Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


It’s time to explore Torah Portion Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27, aliyah by aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Genesis 12:14-13:4

Genesis 12:14 When Avram entered Egypt, the Egyptians did notice that the woman was very beautiful.

GEN 12:14

The Torah attests Sarai’s beauty

Genesis 12:15 Pharaoh’s princes saw her and commended her to Pharaoh, so the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

GEN 12:15

Sarai is 65 years old, she must have been truly beautiful from a worldly perspective to be taken to a king like this

Genesis 12:16 He treated Avram well for her sake, giving him sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female slaves, and camels.

GEN 12:16

I imagine this is some sort of bride price being paid to Sarai’s “brother”

Genesis 12:17 But HaShem inflicted great plagues on Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai Avram’s wife.

GEN 12:17

I wonder why Sarai is called Avram’s wife here. Why the emphasis? Surely someone reading the passage would already know this from before and it is soon to be spoken of.

Genesis 12:18 Pharaoh called Avram and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she was your wife?

GEN 12:18

Pharaoh’s frustration seems reasonable to me. We do not know thousands of years removed from this text what this Pharaoh was truly like, if he wa sincere or if he would have wanted to murder Avram to take Sarai. The text does not provide us that context.

Genesis 12:19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my own wife? Now therefore, here is your wife! Take her, and go away!”

GEN 12:19

I see Pharaoh as noble and proper in his actions here. I don’t condone a king having a harem, as seems to be the case, but it doesn’t mean he is evil and his conduct is reasonable.

Genesis 12:20 So Pharaoh gave orders concerning him to his men, and they sent him on his way with his wife and everything he had.

GEN 12:20

Avram came into Egypt to avoid famine in Canaan. Did the plenty he was given equip them to survive through the famine? Was that part of the Almighty’s plan?

Genesis 13:1 Avram went up from Egypt — he, his wife and everything he had, and Lot with him — into the Negev.

GEN 13:1

I find it interesting that this verse more or less echoes GEN 12:5. Was the passage into Egypt a false step or false start? Is there something different here from before we are supposed to take not of?

Genesis 13:2 Avram became wealthy, with much cattle, silver and gold.

GEN 13:2

Avram’s wealth is specified here, where as before he was said to have people and possessions he had acquired in Haran. Did he acquire those so-to-speak without the LORD as opposed to the wealth of Egypt he now has?

Genesis 13:3 As he went on his travels from the Negev, he came to Beit-El, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beit-El and ‘Ai,

GEN 13:3

Here we have more language that seems to emphasize going back or starting again. Is this the first great reset? Was something wrong with the first time Avram sojourned in Canaan?

Genesis 13:4 where he had first built the altar; and there Avram called on the name of HaShem.

GEN 13:4

Avram’s grandson Jacob will build an altar at Beit-El in the future. Is this foreshadowing that event?


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

  1. Why was Sarai so beautiful?
  2. Was the Egyptian Detour bad?
  3. Did Abram make the first Great Reset?

That concludes my journey through Lech Lecha for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writing a children's books series inspired by tokusatsu. Weekly Toku Analysis - https://mjmunoz.com/category/analyzer/

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