As the month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness month concludes, this week’s Torah portion offers us an insight to take with us as we continue to work for a cure. This week in Parshat Vayera, we see Abraham and Sarah, who are childless and the Torah says “already old, well on in years…” 3 visitors arrive who announce that next year, they will have a son. And Sarah laughs.
When Sarah, at the advanced age of 90, hears these perfect strangers promise her that she will give birth to a son, she instinctively “laughed within herself” (18:12). While some commentators believe that Sarah found humor in the notion that a woman her age might bear a child, Rashi states that Sarah laughed because she was very aware of her own physical condition. Rather than translating the word b’kirbah as “within herself,” Rashi understands it to mean that she laughed “at her insides.” It’s as if “She examined her [body] and said, ‘Is it possible for these insides to carry a child?’” Rashi’s explanation of Sarah’s experience highlights the importance of awareness when it comes to women’s health issues.
Reading about Sarah’s awareness of her own physical well-being serves as a reminder to us all of how important women’s health truly is—from the remarkable act of giving birth to the complex issues of illness like breast cancer. So as the month of October ends, let us all continue to support programs that create awareness, let us participate in walks and fundraisers and let us work together to find a cure.