Torah Weekly

For the week ending 31 October 2015 / 18 Heshvan 5776

Parshat Vayera

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Overview

Three days after performing brit mila on himself, Avraham is visited by G-d. When three angels appear in human form, Avraham rushes to show them hospitality by bringing them into his tent, despite this being the most painful time after the operation. Sarah laughs when she hears from them that she will bear a son next year. G-d reveals to Avraham that He will destroy Sodom, and Avraham pleads for Sodom to be spared. G-d agrees that if there are fifty righteous people in Sodom He will not destroy it. Avraham "bargains" G-d down to ten righteous people. However, not even ten can be found. Lot, his wife and two daughters are rescued just before sulfur and fire rain down on Sodom and her sister cities. Lots wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lots daughters fear that as a result of the destruction there will be no husbands for them. They decide to get their father drunk and through him to perpetuate the human race. From the elder daughter, Moav is born, and from the younger, Ammon. Avraham moves to Gerar where Avimelech abducts Sarah. After G-d appears to Avimelech in a dream, he releases Sarah and appeases Avraham. As promised, a son, Yitzchak, is born to Sarah and Avraham. On the eighth day after the birth, Avraham circumcises him as commanded. Avraham makes a feast the day Yitzchak is weaned. Sarah tells Avraham to banish Hagar and Hagar's son Yishmael because she sees in him signs of degeneracy. Avraham is distressed at the prospect of banishing his son, but G-d tells him to listen to whatever Sarah tells him to do. After nearly dying of thirst in the desert, Yishmael is rescued by an angel and G-d promises that he will be the progenitor of a mighty nation. Avimelech enters into an alliance with Avraham when he sees that G-d is with him. In a tenth and final test, G-d instructs Avraham to take Yitzchak, who is now 37, and to offer him as a sacrifice. Avraham does this in spite of ostensibly aborting Jewish nationhood and contradicting his life-long preaching against human sacrifice. At the last moment, G-d sends an angel to stop Avraham. Because of Avrahams unquestioning obedience, G-d promises him that even if the Jewish People sin, they will never be completely dominated by their foes. The parsha ends with the genealogy and birth of Rivka.

Insights

A Laminated Season Ticket

“…and he (Avraham) was sitting at the entrance of the tent…” (18:1)

I know someone who loves to have guests for Shabbat.

When his guests first arrive he says, “Please help yourselves to anything on the table except the silverware.”

When the oversize cholent arrives at the table, he says, “Okay. The doors have been locked — no one can leave until the cholent is finished.”

And when they leave his house he says to them, “Okay, anyone who comes to us for Shabbat once gets a permanent season ticket. It’s Shabbat so we can’t laminate it, but don’t forget — you’ve got a season ticket. Come back again!”

“…and he (Avraham) was sitting at the entrance of the tent…”

Rashi comments, “to see if anyone was passing by or returning, so he could bring them into his house.”

What does Rashi mean, “to see if anyone was passing by or returning?” Why didn’t he just say, “to see if anyone was passing by?”

A person doesn’t like to feel beholden to others.

Human nature prefers to give rather than to take. Avraham would sit at the entrance to his tent not just to bring in first-time visitors, but also to make sure that those who had already been his guests and might feel they were imposing by making a return visit, were made to feel that they had a “season ticket.”

  • Source: based on Pardes Yosef

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