At the beginning of the portion Vayera, the angels, after being fed by Abraham, tell him that a great miracle will happen a year from now: he and his wife Sarah, who are far past child-bearing years and have been trying their entire lives to have children, will have a child. It tells us that when Sarah hears this, she laughs, and the Creator gets upset, and says, “Why is Sarah laughing at Me? Is there anything that I, God, cannot do?” Then it says that Sarah denies laughing.
What is the secret of this story?
The kabbalists teach something very important. We know that in order for any Light to be revealed, there has to be a vessel. A vessel, however, is not just a true desire; it is also certainty that something can, or will, happen. There is a very big difference between desiring something to happen, and having the consciousness that it can.
Sarah hears the Creator saying, through the angels, “I am going to give you the blessing of a child.” And while she does not doubt for one moment that the Light of the Creator can do anything, she also knows that great blessing can only come if she has a vessel for it. So, she tells the Creator the truth: “I desire this. There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t give up to be able to have a child. But if I am honest with myself, I do not have the consciousness that it is a possibility.” Then, Sarah asks the Creator to help her, because she knows that a person cannot pray for whatever is impossible in their mind.
As such, it is not that the Creator is upset in this story, but rather, that the Creator is saying to Sarah, “You understand that you do not have the vessel for it, and because you are asking for that gift of a change of consciousness, I will give it to you.” The Creator sends a shift of consciousness to Sarah so that she can really believe in the possibility that she will have a child. And then, she is able to ask for it and have a vessel into which to receive that blessing.
It’s a completely different view of the story of Sarah and her interaction with the Creator; she was never actually laughing at the possibility, nor did the Creator get upset at her for laughing. She was simply being truthful in her consciousness, saying to the Creator, “I know You can do it, and I know You want to do it. But I have to be truthful and look inside and see I do not have a vessel for that miracle, I do not have any real consciousness that is a possibility for me.” Sarah knew that no matter how much the Creator wanted to give her that blessing, while it was still not a real consciousness in her mind, it could not come. So, she asks the Creator to help her, to change her consciousness, and in those words, the Creator imbues the ability for Sarah’s consciousness to change. He gives her the gift of a shift in consciousness where she comes to a point and can say, for the first time in her life, she believes she can have a child; that is all she needed, because the second she came to that understanding, she had the vessel. She prayed, and drew the Light of the blessing of a child for herself and Abraham. That is what can happen on the Shabbat of Vayera.
We learn from this something incredibly important: desiring something by itself, maybe even desiring it more than anything in our lives, means nothing if we do not have the vessel of true certainty that having it, or it happening, is possible. Sarah is aware of that reality, and so she asks the Creator to give her a gift of a new consciousness. And the Creator does. Then, she has the vessel, and is able to pray for it, and become pregnant.
This is such a beautiful idea, but what does it mean for us? Those of us who see our lives as a way to ultimately reveal the complete Light of the Creator in this world, and desire to do so, have to ask ourselves one question: Do we really have true certainty that it is actually possible? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is no. And that is okay; Sarah knew, and she was honest. She said, “Even though I desire it more than anything, I do not have certainty that it is a possibility in my reality.” And because she had that true understanding and asked for that gift from the Creator, the Creator gave it to her and changed it for her.
Such is the gift of Shabbat Vayera: not to desire miracles, because we all desire miracles, but rather, the understanding that desire means nothing unless we have the consciousness that what we desire is actually possible. We need to know that if we do not have that consciousness, we do not have that real vessel, and we cannot get there on our own. But on Shabbat Vayera we can say to the Creator, “I do not have it, please give me the consciousness of this miracle. Then, I will know that I can pray for it and receive it.” The blessings of all the miracles that we desire are ready. The only thing that needs to shift is our consciousness that it can really happen. And once we understand that we do not have that consciousness, we can then ask for it, and receive it. Then, when we receive it, the miracles happen, like the miracle of a child did for Sarah.