This week we read the Torah portion Chayei Sarah (“The Life of Sarah”), which gains its title because at the beginning of the portion we learn that Sarah has died. We understand from various midrashim (interpretative commentaries) that Sarah died at the same time Abraham was carrying out the Akeidah, near-sacrifice of his son, Isaac.
The late Rabbi Aharon Kotler (1891-1962) noted that after Abraham completes the Akeidah and hears the voice telling him to spare his son, the Torah devotes an entire verse to the fact that a ram was entangled in a bush, noted local Rabbi Yissochar Frand in a lecture. The test was complete. “What need does the Torah have to emphasize this ram?” Rabbi Kotler asked.
It’s to demonstrate that the evil inclination never gives up, he answered. Abraham passed the test. He won that round, so to speak, but there will always be another test.
When Abraham descends from Mount Moriah he finds his wife dead. This is the next test; Abraham made it through the Akeidah, but how will he react to Sarah’s passing?
We learn from this that we must always be cognizant of our evil inclinations and strive to combat them through mitzvot.
— Maayan Jaffe