Parashat Chayyei Sarah
Avraham and Sarah are the first biblical figures who are described as old. This appears in last weeks parashah and is summarised again in this week’s: “Avraham was old, advanced in age” (Genesis 24:1). In Talmud Bavli (Bava Metzia 87a), a midrash comes to the simultaneously logical and fascinating conclusion that since no one in the Bible is described as old, zaken, until this point, then “there was no old age until Avraham.” The midrash continues to make the claim that Avraham actually asked for aging. What does this tell us about the nature of aging and its importance to being human, like the other etiologies in Genesis? How is old age portrayed, and what does the text come to suggest regarding how we should relate to aging ourselves? We will explore these questions through the lens of two parallel midrashim that describe Avraham’s request for aging.