Silent Scream

When Abraham learns of his soul mate’s death, the verse says he “came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her” (23:2). This was no ordinary cry, for the Hebrew word describing Abraham’s mourning is stylistically written differently than other terms related to weeping penned in the Torah scroll.

Rarely do you have a font change in one of the letters within a word that appears in the Torah scroll. When it occurs, it is time to learn its lesson.

The first letter font change in the Bible appears in the opening of Genesis: “In the beginning” (Bereshit – (בראשית – the letter bet appears larger than the other letters in the Torah scroll. The second typeface alteration is when Abraham mourns for Sarah: (v’livkota (וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ– to weep for her. The letter kaf in the middle of the word is smaller than the other letters.

Some commentaries look at the kaf’s decreased size as an indication that Abraham restrained himself from excessively mourning over his wife. Having just returned from the emotional episode of the Binding of Isaac, Abraham is immediately faced with the death of his partner in life. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his future for God, passing the ultimate test, only to find that the Lord took away his beloved. At that moment, Abraham could have regretted everything he did for the Lord, for what type of God would play such a cruel trick? In Jewish liturgy, in the Evening Prayer we ask God “to remove Satan from before us and after us.” Satan is always trying to challenge us not to do God’s Will, but he is also looking for ways to undo the effects of obeying God’s commands by getting us to regret our obedience. Abraham restrained his mourning over Sarah to demonstrate that he had no regrets doing God’s Will, thus outsmarting Satan. The cry of Abraham was a silent scream rather a wailing.

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