Bereishit: 12: 10-20
In considering all her past relationships, Serena had learned that it was almost always a bad thing when the men in her life started thinking.
It was just a regular Upper West Side weekend party. They both knew more than half the people in the room; in fact, they had probably each dated more than a few of them. But now they were together, a couple. That definitely took some of the edge out of being in the room. There was less pressure to meet and greet.
That was when Avi started talking.
“You know, Serena, I’ve been thinking.”
Seriously, almost never a good sign.
“Uhuh. And what would you be thinking, Avi?”
“Well, part of what I’ve been thinking is about this party, and part of what I’ve been thinking is about this week’s parsha.”
“This should be good.”
“Let me start with the parsha. In Lech Lecha, Avram goes down to Egypt because of a famine, and when he’s there with his entourage, he decides to tell Pharaoh’s court that his wife Sarai is his sister instead of his wife. You know, to avoid his getting killed because she was so beautiful, and everything.”
“Yes, I’ve read that, too,” Serena said, waiting for the shoe to drop.
“The commentaries differ about how they feel about what Avram did. I mean, he is a big tzaddik and all, so he must have had his reasons.”
“The Sforno suggests that Avram said Sarai was his sister as a stalling tactic. He wanted the Egyptians to vie for her hand while he bought provisions. Then he would high tail it out of town with her before anyone was the wiser. Of course, Pharaoh abducted her, so the plan kind of fell apart, but Avram’s plan all along was to protect her.”
“That’s kind of my thinking about this party, Serena. Maybe we should pretend we’re not together, much like our forefathers and foremothers did. I mean, Avram was a great man, and he did it. I think that meeting other people, albeit for one night, and only one night, can only make our relationship stronger. And maybe people will vie for your hand, just like they were supposed to for Sarai.”
“I must say, Avi, I am soooo impressed that you gave the parsha so much thought before you made your bold suggestion. You truly are an erudite Torah scholar.”
It was then that Avi began to suspect he had made a mistake, not only in his biblical interpretation but perhaps in his assessment of Serena’s likely reaction as well.
“But I would like to respectfully point out that many, if not most, commentaries feel that Avram made a big mistake in claiming Sarai was his sister. The Ramban states it was a big mistake, much like your suggestion that we try to meet other people tonight. But let’s stick to parshanut for now, shall we?”
“The Ramban states that Avram should have trusted in G-d to protect him and his wife and should never have put his righteous wife at risk. Especially his righteous wife who would never abandon him at a party.” At this point Serena began to speak rather quickly, and perhaps a little bit loudly as well. People in the room were becoming interested in the conversation.
“In fact, the Ramban goes as far as to suggest that Avram’s misdeed here, both in coming down to Egypt for food and in abandoning Sarai to the Egyptian suitors is what eventually led to Israel having to go into slavery in Egypt. Pretty bad outcome, wouldn’t you say?”
“I guess so.”
“So I would have to say that your interpretation of Avram’s success in claiming Sarai as his sister needs some work.”
“Well, that’s one interpretation.”
Serena smiled. “Yes, I suppose you could look at it that way. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never seen a commentary suggested that Avram our patriarch said that Sarai was his sister so that he could score with other women in Pharaoh’s court.”
“True,” Avi agreed. “I’ve never, to my knowledge, seen that particular interpretation either.”
“I think you need to go now, Avi.”
“Now would be a good time.”
Avi left the party alone. And after her demonstration of parsha erudition, many would be suitors at the party approached Serena to discuss the parsha.