Avraham and Sarah’s Laughter – Parshat Lech Lecha & Vayeira
“Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in her house as a joyful mother of children.! Halleluyah!”
מוֹשִׁיבִי, עֲקֶרֶת הַבַּיִת— אֵם–הַבָּנִים שְׂמֵחָה:
Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good,
and I will plant them in this land in truth with
My whole heart and with My whole soul.
By Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham
© 16 Tammuz 5778 – 29 June 2018
HaShem Names Isaac!
In Parshat Lech Lecha we read,
(B’rashith 17.17) “And Abraham fell on his face and rejoiced, and he said to himself, “Will [a child] be born to one who is a hundred years old, and will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth?””
18 “And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael will live before You!” “
“And G-D said: ‘Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.” B’rashith 17.19
Here, (in B’rashith 17.19) HaShem gives a decree or command; a prophecy as it were, concerning Avraham’s naming of Yitzchaq (Isaac – lit. “he will laugh”) since the laughter of Avraham, Sarah and Yishmael were quite different.
In Parshat Vayeira Sarah laughs twice: in 18.12: “And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have become worn out, will I have smooth flesh? And also, my master is old.”” and in 21.6 “And Sarah said, “God has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.””
will rejoice over me: Heb. יִצְחַק will rejoice for me (Targum Onkelos). And the Midrashic interpretation (Gen. Rabbah 53:8) is: Many barren women were remembered with her; many sick people were healed on that very day; many prayers were answered with hers, and there was much joy in the world.
Rabbi Hirsch relates that this 21.6 tzchaq is mockery. (“I am made a laughing stock to this generation, who accuse my lord Avraham and I of bringing a foundling in from the street” – see below, The Redemption of Yisrael.)
Sarah Laughs (snickers) and Avraham is questioned about it!
HaShem asks not Sarah, but Avraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? saying….”! 18.13
Ordinarily, when a person sins, HaShem confronts them personally (as in the examples, “Adam where are you, have you eaten, where is thy brother”); so, was this a rhetorical device HaShem was using by asking Avraham instead of Sarah to indicate (remez) why their son was named Yitzchaq (by HaShem 17.19 future laughter 21.6 “he will laugh”); or, was this a tochacha (rebuke) of Avraham for not informing Sarah that she would give birth to a son since HaShem had told Avraham in 17.19 before the messengers arrive in 18.2, to announce in 18.10 that Sarah would give birth, to name his son [from Sarah,] Yitzchaq?
We can see from HaShem’s question, “Why did Sarah laugh?” and the whole story concerning Sarah’s inability to conceive, (16.2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the L-RD has restrained me from bearing; please come to my handmaid; perhaps I will be built up from her.” And Abram hearkened to Sarai’s voice.), first of all, that it was Sarah’s lack of faith (in herself, her lack of self-esteem, her self depriciating mockery) which HaShem was pointing out to Avraham by asking this question in 18.13.
And what does this question have to do with the Redemption of Yisrael? Before any of the various incidents occur concerning the name or naming of Yitzchaq, HaShem has already told Avraham in Parsha Lech Lecha (17.19) to name his promised son Yitzchaq (whereas with the [other] matriarchs, they name their children) because (as we shall see below, in a play on the name Yitzchaq, a double entendre as in were,) He will establish “My covenant with laughter” 17.21.
“Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’ 18.13 Is anything (any prophetic word of Myself 17.19, 21 or the lack of faith of Sarah: “for she said, ….”) hidden from the L-RD? I will return to you at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”” 18.14
18.15 “Then Sarah denied, saying: ‘I laughed not’; for she was afraid. And He said: ‘Nay; but thou didst laugh.'”
And if it is Avraham who says, ” ‘Nay; but thou didst laugh.’ ” then it would seem to be that he was trying to strengthen her faith in HaShem by pointing out that HaShem sees even the thoughts of our heart!
The rhetorical question is “Why did Sarah (as opposed to Avraham) laugh? They both laughed! So why is the question posed to Avinu Avraham? Is it because Sarah is under the authority (Reshut) of Avraham?
There are ten “incidents” that remez (indicate) why Avraham and Sarah’s son is named Yitzchaq (Isaac) he will laugh: (Avraham’s laughter 17:17, Sarah’s laughter [twice] 18.12, 21.6 and Yishmael’s laughter 21.9)! Two are positive 17.17, 21.6 and two are negative 18.12, 21.9 types of laughter; and HaShem mentions Sarah’s laughter twice 18.13, 15 in a negative connotation and once 21.12 in relationship to hearkening to the voice of Sarah and once in affirmation in relationship to the Covenant of Circumcision 17.21 !
First, Avraham “falls on his face and laughs 17.17;” then HaShem tells him to name his future son Yitzchaq (meaning he will laugh)17.19! It seems on the surface that Sarah’s laughter is no different from Avraham’s.
Avraham’s laughter is prefixed with the vav conversive (hahipuk) וַיִּצְחָ֑ק so why is there the question posed only to Avraham? The vav hahipuk changes the future tense into perfect past tense!
1) 17.17 Avraham fell on his face and laughed וַיִּפֹּ֧ל אַבְרָהָ֛ם עַל־פָּנָ֖יו וַיִּצְחָ֑ק
2) 17.19 and thou shalt call his name Isaac (He will laugh) וְקָרָ֥אתָ אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ יִצְחָ֑ק
3) 17.21 My Covenant I will establish with Isaac וְאֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אָקִ֣ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֑ק
4) 18.12 And Sarah laughed within herself, saying וַתִּצְחַ֥ק שָׂרָ֖ה בְּקִרְבָּ֣הּ
5) 18.13 Why did Sarah laugh וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם לָ֣מָּה זֶּה֩ צָֽחֲקָ֨ה שָׂרָ֜ה
6) 18.15 I laughed not לֵאמֹ֛ר לֹ֥א צָחַ֖קְתִּי כִּ֣י
7) 18.15 Nay, but you did laugh לֹ֖א כִּ֥י צָחָֽקְתְּ
8) 21.6 laughter for me … will laugh on account צְחֹ֕ק עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים כָּל־הַשֹּׁמֵ֖עַ יִֽצֲחַק־לִֽי
9) 21.9 making merry מְצַחֵק
10) 21.12 for in Isaac will be called your seed כִּ֣י בְיִצְחָ֔ק יִקָּרֵ֥א לְךָ֖ זָֽרַע
In 18.13 the literal question is, lamah zeh tzchaqah Sarah: “why this laughter [of] Sarah?” לָ֣מָּה זֶּה֩ צָֽחֲקָ֨ה שָׂרָ֜ה Here, 18.13 (and 18.15) seems to be HaShem’s isolation of Sarah’s tzchaqah laughter (snicker) 18.12 – so this is HaShem specifically mentioning Sarah’s laughter in connection with Isaac before Sarah’s laughter in 21.6 and before the laughter of Yishmael in 21.9 and the geresh (casting out) of Hagar and Ishmael because of, as we shall see, Yishmael’s mocking Yitzchaq and the Covenant of Circumcision and before the Akeidah (Binding of Yitzchaq)!
Sarah’s laughter in 21.6a is in reference to 18.12 (her snicker self-depricating laughter and her laughter “with Yitzchaq“), while the hearer’s laughter (“all who hear me will laugh”) in 21.6b is a prophetic reference to the future redemption of Yisrael!
Yet, Avraham is “just as guilty” as Sarah for laughing, so the literal question, “why this laughter [of] Sarah?” could be HaShem’s way of pointing out or saying, “Why Sarah’s laughter, when you laughed too!” In 18.13 the literal question is, lamah zeh tzchaqah Sarah: “why this laughter [of] Sarah?” For conventions sake we add the “of” to the question but really the question is, “Why this laughter (comma,) Sarah? So, the question could have been posed in Sarah’s presence as we see from her response in 18.15: “And Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you laughed.””
Genesis Chapter 22 Achar HaD’varim
Brashith 22.1 “And it came to pass after these things, [lit. the words,] that G-D tested Abraham, and He said to him, “Abraham,” and he said, “Here I am.”” 22.2″Please, take [now] your only son” (Qach Na… asheer ahavta eth Yitzchaq)
after these things: Some of our Sages say (Sanh. 89b) [that this, viz the Akeidah happened]: after the words [translating “devarim” as “words”] of Satan, who was accusing and saying, “Of every feast that Abraham made, he did not sacrifice before You one bull or one ram!” He [G-D] said to him, “Does he do anything but for his son? Yet, if I were to say to him, ‘Sacrifice him before Me,’ he would not withhold [him].” And some say,“ after the words of Ishmael,” who was boasting to Isaac that he was circumcised at the age of thirteen, and he did not protest. Isaac said to him,“ With one organ you intimidate me? If the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me, ‘Sacrifice yourself before Me,’ I would not hold back.” – Cf. Gen. Rabbah 55:4.
after these words [translating “ha’d’varim” as “the words” of Sarah, Genesis 21.10]:(“for the son of this handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac.” – shall not inherit [… with] laughter ) the words im Yitzchaq עִם ־יִצְחָֽק are superfluous! (RASHI on 20.18 because of Sarah: Heb. עַל דְּבַר, lit., by the word of Sarah. Through the words of Sarah. — [from Gen. Rabbah 52:13] the wombs of Abimelech’s House were “closed up;”)
Sarah saw Ishmael mocking: 21.9 “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, making merry [mocking].”
“And Sarah said to Abraham, “Drive out this handmaid and her son, for the son of this handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac.”” Genesis 21.10
with my son, etc.: From Sarah’s reply, “For the son of this handmaid shall not inherit with my son,” you learn that he would quarrel with Isaac regarding the inheritance and say,“ I am the firstborn and should take two portions,” and they would go out to the field, and he would take his bow and shoot arrows at him, as it is said (Prov. 26:18f.): “Like one who wearies himself shooting firebrands, etc. and says: Am I not joking?” –
making merry: Heb. מְצַחֵק. An expression of idolatry, as it is said (Exod. 32:6):“and they rose up to make merry” (לְצַחֵק) . Another explanation: An expression of illicit sexual relations, as it is said (below 39:17):“to mock (לְצַחֶק) me.” Another explanation: An expression of murder, as it is said (II Sam. 2:14):“Let the boys get up now and sport (וַיִשַׂחֲקוּ) before us, etc.” – [from Gen. Rabbah 53:11]
making merry: Yishmael mocked the Covenant of Circumcision in 21.9:
And some say,“ after the words of Ishmael,” who was boasting to Isaac that he was circumcised at the age of thirteen, and he did not protest. Isaac said to him,“ With one organ you intimidate me? If the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me, ‘Sacrifice yourself before Me,’ I would not hold back.” – Cf. Gen. Rabbah 55:4.
And Avraham hearkened to her voice. 16.2
21.12 And G-D said to Avraham, “Be not displeased concerning the lad and concerning your handmaid; whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice, for in Isaac will be called your seed.
hearken to her voice: (to the voice of the holy spirit within her.) We learn from here that Abraham was inferior to Sarah in prophecy. — [from Exod. Rabbah 1:1, Tan. Shemoth 1]
Here, (21.12) G-D (through Sarah’s PROPHETIC voice [devarim words] 21.10, (shall not inherit [with …] laughter) has in 21.12) has singled out Yitzchaq as Avraham’s sole heir; confirming 17.19 (in laughter shall thy seed be called [to inherit the land] – (“and the trees of the field shall clap their hands” – do trees have hands with which to clap with?) and confirming 17.21 in regards to the covenant [of circumcision]; do not read, in Isaac shall thy seed be called to thee, but, in laughter shall thy seed be called [to inherit the land] as it was said, (A Double Entendre) 17.21 “But My covenant I will establish with laughter….” ). Thus, we have the expression, “Qach Na eth bincha eth y’chide’cha asheer ahavta eth Yitzchaq – Take [now] thy only son…” – Genesis 22.2
2 “And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for an offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.””
Due to Yishmael’s mocking the Covenant of Circumcision 21.9, Hagar and Ishmael have been manumitted and only Yitzchaq (that is, only laughter) remains in the house with Avraham and Sarah (as an heir) .
In Brashith 21.10 Yishmael is refered to as ben ha’amah by Sarah:
בְּנָהּ – 21.10 B’nah this is not the equivalent of b’ni “my son” בְּנִי (“shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”) – the son of this bondwoman בֶּן–הָאָמָה
In 21.12 HaShem refers to Hagar as a handmaid ־אֲמָתֶ֔ךָ (“And God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased concerning the lad and concerning your handmaid; whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice, for in Isaac will be called your seed.”)
your only one, whom you love, Isaac, קַח ־נָ֠א אֶת ־בִּנְךָ֨ אֶת־יְחִֽידְךָ֤ אֲ שֶׁ ר ־אָהַ֨בְתָּ֙ אֶ ת ־יִצְחָ֔ק
Genesis 22.12 “And he said, “Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a G-D fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”
16 “And he said, “By Myself have I sworn, says the L-RD, that because you have done this davar thing (this prophetic word, or request, to wit: “bring him up there as an offering” 22.2) and you did not withhold your son, your only one, ….” (17 “…. your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.”)
21.8 And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.” Avraham did not throw a feast for Yishmael, so obviously Yitzchaq is the only son he loves!
THEREFORE, “And it came to pass after these words” (Genesis 22.1)
1) comes to specify Sarah’s prophetic words or decree (: “for the son of this handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac [with laughter]” [the words im Yitzchaq are superfluous as Sarah obviously has only one son) and,
2) comes to single out HaShem’s decree 21.12 that in Isaac [viz, laughter, not the grief caused by, or of Hagar and Ishmael 21.9, 11, 16,17, “but the davar (literally, the words: shall not inherit) was very grevious in Avraham’s sight”; “let it not be grievious in thy sight” 21.12] shall Avraham’s seed be called (as heirs) to inherit Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) ! (Isaiah 27.12 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the L-RD will beat off [His fruit] from the flood of the River unto the Brook of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.”)
21.11 “But the davar (matter, literally, the words: shall not inherit) greatly displeased Abraham, concerning his son.”
concerning his son: Because he heard that he had fallen to wicked ways (Tan. Shemoth 1). According to its simple (peshat) meaning, however, [it means] because she told him to send him away.
“HaShem saw the light (Isaac laughter) that it was good.” “she saw that he was a goodly child”
Brashith 1.4, Shmoth 2.2
In laughter shall Avraham’s heirs be called or reckoned, accounted, mustered, numbered as in Shmoth 3.16, 14.8; “And HaShem remembered (Pachad [past tense] reckoned or mustered for warfare – Ad-noy Tzavaoth Tehillim 149.6-9) Sarah….” B’rashith (Genesis) 21.1:
And HaShem took [an] account[ing] of Sarah – saw all she had been through in Egypt 12.15 with Pharoah and with Abimelech 20.2, and the treatment given to her by Hagar (16.4-6) and blessed her to be a glad mother of children (Tehillim 113.9: “Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in her house as a joyful mother of children.”); “6 And Sarah said, “God has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children, for I have borne a son to his old age!”
Sarah would nurse children: Why is “children” in the plural? On the day of the feast, the princesses brought their children with them, and she nursed them, for they were saying,“Sarah did not give birth, but brought in a foundling from the street.” – [from B.M. 87a] See above 17:16:
and I will bless her: with breast feeding, when she required it, on the day of Isaac’s feast, for people were murmuring against them, that they had brought a foundling from the street and were saying, “He is our son.” So each one brought her child with her, but not her wet nurse, and she (Sarah) nursed them all. That is what is said (below 21:7): “Sarah has nursed children.” Gen. Rabbah (53:9) alludes slightly to this. — [from B.M. 87a]
A Double Entendre
HaShem prophesies concerning the redemption of Israel.
“And God said: ‘Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.” Gen 17.19
Here, (17.19) HaShem gives a prophecy concerning the naming of Yitzchaq (Isaac) because of the future laughter [rejoicing] of Sarah with Isaac (he will laugh): (And Sarah said, “God has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.” 21.6)
17.21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.”
Do not read, in Isaac shall thy seed be called to thee, but, in laughter shall thy seed be called [to inherit the land] as it was said, (A Double Entendre) 17.21 “But My covenant I will establish with laughter….” ).
And Sarah laughed within herself, saying: ‘After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ Genesis 18.12
13 “And the L-RD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh,….” Sarah’s laughter reflected incredulousness and scorn, (Rashi to 17.17); while Avraham’s laughter was of joy, astonishment and wonderous belief (He fell on his face in an act of worship).
14 Is anything (devar [prophetic word of wonder] ) hidden from the L-RD? הֲיִפָּלֵ֥א מֵֽיהֹוָ֖ה דָּבָ֑ר
Is the prophetic word I have spoken 17.19, 21 too wonderful [hard for, or hidden or concealed from] the L-RD?
(“Behold, I am the L-RD, the G-D of all flesh; is there any thing too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32.27; 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land in truth with My whole heart and with My whole soul.)
RASHI to 18.14: Is…hidden: Heb. הֲיִפָּלֵא, as the Targum renders: הַיִתְכַּסֵי. Is anything too hidden and separated and concealed from Me [to prevent Me] from doing My will?
18.15 And Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you laughed.”
So why was Sarah afraid? 18.15 – She feared because of the potential rivalry over the inheritance – (“that I may be builded up through her”) between Ishmael and her newly announced son for she saw how pretentious Hagar became upon Hagar becoming pregnant: (Sarah was despised in her estimation as to Hagar’s new status as the mother of Yishmael and his being a potential heir to Avinu Avraham!) At the weaning ceremony Sarah’s suspicions about Yishmael are confirmed and HaShem vindicates Sarah’s decree – shall not inherit with laughter! Avraham’s house-hold shall be one of joyous laughter (children’s laughter – the sound of children playing in the streets: “And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the broad places thereof.” Zecharia 8.5) not the mockery of the Yishmaelites (Brashith 21.9, [37.28?]) and Philistines (Judges 16:25) but Avraham’s Laughter with worship of the Holy One (Ancient of Days).
“Abraham threw himself on his face and laughed, and he said to himself ‘Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?’” (17:17)
And Abraham … and rejoiced: Heb. וַיִּצְחָק. Onkelos renders this as an expression of joy:
וַחֲדִי “and he rejoiced,” but the one [וַתִּצְחָק] in the case of Sarah (below 18:12) [he renders] as an expression of laughter. You learn that Abraham believed and rejoiced, but Sarah did not believe and ridiculed, and for this reason, the Holy One, blessed be He, was angry with Sarah, but was not angry with Abraham.
RAMBAN on 18.15:
18.15 And Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you laughed.”
“She laughed inside her” – With derision like “the sitter in the heavens will laugh, God will mock them” (Psalms 2:4), because laughter in joy is with the mouth “then our mouths will be filled with laughter” (ibid 126:2). But laughter in the heart is not said with reference to joy.
And the Holy One Blessed be He, accused her to Avraham, why should the thing [literally “spoken word”] be impossible in her eyes, and it would be fitting [literally “seemly”] that she believe or say “Amen, let God do so.” And behold Avraham said to her, “Why did you laugh, is anything beyond God?” and did not explain to her that God had revealed her secret to him. And she for fear of Avraham denied [it] for she thought Avraham recognized it in her face or because she was silent and did not offer praise and thanks about the thing and was not happy. And he said to her “no, rather you laughed” at which time she understood that it was said to him so, and so she was silent and did not respond any word to him.
And it is fitting that we say further that Avraham did not reveal to her that which was said to him before (see above, 17:19) “but Sarah your wife is bearing you a son.” Perhaps he was waiting until God would send her the good news on the next day, for he knew that the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7) or because of his great alacrity in commandments he was preoccupied with his circumcision and that of a vast multitude of those in his house and after that in his weakness he sat by the entrance of the tent and the angels came before he had told her anything.
Source: Sefaria <https://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.18.15.2-3?lang=bi>
So, qualitatively, Avraham’s laughter was different from Sarah’s and Yishmael’s.
And Sarah saw Ishmael mocking the covenant of circumcision! Ishmael’s mockery was punished with banishment from the household – stripped of the potential right to be an heir. (“that I may be builded up through her.” 16.2) – He was disinherited by Sarah’s decree: shall not inherit
HaShem changes Sarah’s inner laughter (a snicker) into outward rejoicing: “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing; Then said they among the nations: ‘The L-RD hath done great things with these.’ ” Tehillim 126.2
The Redemption of Yisrael
“then our mouths shall be filled with laughter”
Tehillim 126.2 “Then was our mouth filled with laughter שְׂחוֹק , And our tongue with singing; Then said they among the nations: ‘The LORD hath done great things with these.’ “
Job 8.21 “Till He fill thy mouth with laughter, and thy lips with shouting. 22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the tent of the wicked shall be no more.”
Daniel 7.9, 10 “The Ancient of Days did sit …. and the judgement was set and the books were opened.”
7.18 “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.'”
7.22 “until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High; and the time came, and the saints possessed the kingdom.”
“For from their beginning, I see them as mountain peaks, and I behold them as hills; it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned יִתְחַשָּֽׁב among the nations.” Numbers 23.9
“He does not look at evil in Jacob, and has seen no perversity in Israel; the Lord, his God, is with him, and he has the King’s friendship.” Numbers 23.21
“He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them [the Nations] in derision.” (Psalms) 2.4
“The Lord doth laugh at him [the wicked]; For He seeth that his day is coming.” 37.13
Yitzchaq’s Name is Changed to Yischaq
Tehillim 105.9 [The covenant] which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; לְיִשְׂחָק
“Netsiv goes on to point out that Psalms 105, which is identical to chapter 16 in Chronicles I in all but one verse, foretells a better future, in which also Yitshak’s name will be altered. Referring to God’s covenant with the patriarchs, the ninth verse in this Psalm differs from its correlate (Chronicles I, 16:16) in that the name Yitshak is spelled Yishak in the phrase: “Ushevua-to leYitshak.” Says Netsiv, David foretold through divine inspiration that some day, the patriarch would be renamed to indicate the full joy that would replace the mockery.” Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin of Volozhin, Ha’amek Davar: Commentary on the Pentateuch, New York: Friedman. <https://www.lookstein.org/professional-dev/and-sarah-laughed/>
A little Gematria and “TASHBETZ” (cross-word puzzle associations)
The difference in spelling is apparent – The one Yitzchaq is with a tzaddi צְ the other, Yischaq is with a sin שְׂ. The difference in gematria is 90 from 300= 210 Resh Yud – Yireh fear, as in, the fear of Avraham 22.12 “for now I know that you are a God fearing man” כִּ֣י | עַתָּ֣ה יָדַ֗עְתִּי כִּֽי־יְרֵ֤א אֱלֹהִים֙
Yitzchaq with a tzaddi is the righteousness of Avraham (“And Avraham believed HaShem and it was counted to him for righteousness” 15.6), while the Yischaq with a sin is the fear יְרֵ֤א of Yitzchaq (B’rashith 31.53) and Ya’acov (“And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.”) – the reward שְׂכָרְךָ for being a faithful servant (B’rashith 15.1) (as in, “My Servant shall prosper”) or a faithful bride (as in, Sarah) as it is written, “And I will betroth thee unto Me in Righteousness,…” etc.; the resh is for reshut (authority of HaShem during the Redemption of the Messianic Era, the final redemption) and the yud is for yad (hand We see the Holy One’s guiding hand in naming Yitzchaq, in the formulation of the twelve sons of Ya’acov 31.42 and in everything that transpires!) the Hand of the Shepherd. Tehillim 23.1 – HaShem Roi (יְהוָה רֹעִי) lo echsar – HaShem is my Shepherd I lack nothing
HaShem, the Shepherd of Yisrael will redeem Yisrael with Simchah (rejoicing): “And I will establish My Covenant with laughter….” This is why Yischaq in Tehillim 105.9 is spelled with a sin שְׂ because of the gladness and joy promised to Avinu Avraham in B’rashith 15.1 the reward שְׂכָרְךָ for being a faithful servant as prophesied in Isaiah:
Isaiah 51.11 “And the ransomed of the L-RD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
“This is why, says Rabbi Hirsch, the name Yitzchok has the yud in the front of it, which conjugates the verb to the future tense. “Yitzchok” means he will laugh, in the future. There are many who are laughing now — as Sarah said, Tz’chok asa li Elokim, “G-D has made me a laughing stock”; the whole world is laughing at us, mocking us. Yet the Divine says, don’t worry; they may laugh now but in the end you, Jewry, are going to be the ones laughing. You are going to survive and defy the laws of history. You will be reborn and demonstrate how a people can exist on a completely different, miraculous plane, above the physical laws of this world.
Every Sabbath just before reciting the Grace After Meals, we recite a paragraph from Tehillim, known as the Shir HaMa’aloth. One of the verses we say is “then our mouths will be filled with laughter,” referring to the time of the Final Redemption.
This is the message that Yitzchok’s name carries, and it is the ultimate message of the Jewish people: that the world is not just what we see; there is so much more to it. The hand of G-D guides each and every one of us. Our mission in this world is to see the Divine’s guiding hand in everything, and to know that there is so much more than what meets the eye.”
We see the Divine’s guiding hand in naming Yitzchaq (Yischaq)!