Within this great story we find a moment of controversy. Abram has received the promise of an heir and after years of waiting, Sarai is still not conceiving the promised child. The scriptures continue the story, saying:
Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
People have a wide variety of responses — “How could she?!” “Where’s the faith?” “What an act of grace!” I would dare say that our response to her choice is exactly as it should be—all over the place. Faced with her own reality, her love of Abram draws her to share her husband with another, in order for his dream to be reality. In Sarai, we see sacrificial love. I would dare say that after ten years of waiting, most of us would give up too! Yet, she found another path. It wasn’t his idea, but rather hers. As the sages have mused, that the Torah chose to mention her voice at all is because there was an element of divine inspiration within it (Genesis Rabbah).
To be sure, later Sarai struggles with the presence of Hagar and Ishmael but for today, let’s bask in the vision of love and blessing!