The Gemara (BM 87b) relates that at the time that Avraham made a feast for Yitzchak'a birth, the nations mocked him and Sarah, saying that they adopted him, or that he was Avimelech's son with Sarah. HaShem made Yitzchak look just like Avraham so everyone could see he was the father, and Sarah nursed all of their guest's children to show that she was physically capable of being his mother.

In those times, everyone worshipped idolatry except for Avraham and his family and followers. After all, Avraham was called the Ivri because he was on one side and the world was on the other (Pesikta Rabasi 33:1). So how was Sarah able to do this, when the Mishnah (AZ 26a) says that one may not nurse an idolatress's baby? Avraham and Sarah observed the Torah before it was given (see, for instance, BM ibid., Bereishis Rabbah 84:4, et. al.). Granted that the Gemara there discusses that one may do so in cases of Eivah, what Eivah would there be in our case if she refused? The heter is Eivah, not Leitzanus.

  • because he was on one side and the world was on the other That may be a fair generality, (assuming it is even about idolatry, which you don't show), but a generality is not sufficient for a question about individuals. You yourself concede that Avraham had family and followers, i.e. that the statement about the "world" is not absolute. Note also Malki-Tsedek.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:33
  • Note that pretty much all the pashtanim reject the notion of the Avot keeoing halakha, as fancifull derash.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:34
  • @mevaqesh: (Though semantics really isn't a big deal, it can be spelled with two p's.) That Gemara in BM talks about them keeping halachos such as Niddah and Pesach. So at least the very Gemara that says she nursed their children says that they kept the mitzvos. And it may be a generality, but certainly some if not many at a minimum were idolaters.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


The woman is permitted to nurse if she has too much milk and it hurts (see Shul.Ar. YD 154, 2). The Talmud quoted says that

נעשה נס בשרה אמנו ונפתחו דדיה כשני מעיינות והניקה את כולם

"her breasts became like two sources". That may mean she had too much milk.

Another ideas:

  • Maybe that

היו כל אומות העולם מרננים אחריהם ואומרים

being mocked (that it was not their child) is like the pain of too much milk.

  • The reason why it is forbidden to nurse is (AZ 26a),

מפני שמגדלת בן לעבודת כוכבים

"because she grows a child for idolatry". But, I heard once --source?..-- that all converts that arrived are "from Sara's milk" (חלב מטהר , see the history with Antoninus; apart that it was a great קדוש השם that the two Judaism's leaders had such a miracle). So, here, it was permitted. [But then, why not always say that, in place of "she grows a child for idolatry?...]

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .