…and Abraham came to eulogize [lis’pod] Sarah and to bewail her [v’liv’kotah*]. (Stone**)
…mourn for Sarah and bewail her. (Plaut/JPS and TWC**)
…to mourn Sarah and to keen for her. (Alter**)
…set about to lament for Sara and to weep over her. (Fox*)
— Breishit/Genesis 23:2 (*The kaf is written small)
Plaut explains that the two verbs describe both a sentiment and a set ritual. The Women’s Commentary** notes that this is one of only two uses of the root samech-pei-dalet, the other being Joseph’s mourning for Jacob, and “the only place where the text mentions details of mourning connection with a woman’s death.” Stone offers these comments:
To eulogize Sarah and to bewail her. The nuances of the phrase denote that Abraham eulogized his beloved wife by emphasizing the noble traits that had become associated with her name, for the name Sarah represented her as the princes of all mankind. (Kli Yakar [commentary by popular polish rabbi, c.1550-1619])
The word v’liv’kotah is written with a small [kaf] to suggest that the full extent of his weeping was kept private. His grief was infinite but the full measure of his pain was conceled in his heart and the privacy of his home. (Samson Raphael Hirsch [“great leader of German-Jewish Orthodoxy and battler against Reform,” 1808-1888]
**For complete citations and more details, please see Source Materials.
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The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.