Newsletter #35, 2015 וַיֵּרָא Vayera 5776

Abraham receives the visit from the three angels sent by Hashem to complete their missions in this world.
When they arrive, he runs to welcome them and he hosts them in a more than hospitable way, despite that he was convalescing from the circumcision he had undergone barely three days before. One of them informs Abraham that within one year his wife Sarah will give birth to a boy. They also communicate to him that the city of Sodom will be destroyed for the perverse conduct of its inhabitants.Abraham and the Three Angels (engraving by Gustave Doré)
Abraham steps in on their behalf before God to prevent the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. So he gets a promise from Hashem that he will forgive the entire community if there are at least ten just men among them.
At any rate the cities do not receive God´s forgiveness. Only Lot, Abraham´s nephew, and his family are saved. Consequentially both cities are blotted from the face of the earth. Lot´s wife is punished because she did not obey God´s commandment to not look back at the destruction meanwhile they were running from the same. After one year´s time Sarah gives birth to a boy, Itzjak, just as it had been promised.
Hashem tests Abrahams faith and he orders that he offer his son Itzjak as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Despite the horrid nature of the test, Abraham prepares himself to complete the Divine mandate. However, a celestial voice stops him beforehand. For being God-fearing and regarding his Faith, Hashem blesses Abraham with numerous descendants.
I would like to pause over two aspects of the Parshah: First of all, with reference to Abraham´s conduct with his guests, his great sense of hospitality, “Hachnasat Orchim” (receive guests). Abraham, despite his convalescence, bends over backwards to attend to his guests the best he can so that they will feel welcome and comfortable. Secondly, with reference to the Abraham´s intervention before God for the life of the inhabitants of Sodom. What links these two apparently unrelated events?
We know of the perverse conduct of the inhabitants of Sodom, those who were cruel and wicked, particularly with their guests. Abraham was rather the opposite. Regardless, it is precisely him who intercedes on their behalf to avoid their destruction. This reveals another of his personality traits that is worth mentioning.
In general, people who hold a particular quality or strength usually judge their peers in a particularly strict manner in this area of conduct. For example, those who are usually on time are usually discerning with others when it comes to punctuality, and they are unable to understand that the other person is not like them in this respect. They have a clear idea that lateness shows disrespect for others´ time.
Occasionally, a person can even impose their standard on others in a rude way. But perhaps the test that these folks should overcome is to recognize that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and that they may have areas in which they are much weaker than others.
This understanding makes us more forgiving, though not permissive, when it comes time to judge our peers. And at the same time put ourselves in their shoes.
Abraham was not prisoner to such inclination to strictly judge others in any area that he himself excelled. Despite the great distance that divided his kindness and that of Sodom, Abraham showed great concern for their wellbeing.
According to the opinión of Rav Kamenetsky, this teaches us about the other aspect of Abraham´s excellence in his personal relationships, as well as his personal grandeur.
Shabbat Shalom ~~~~~~~~ Mati


Read the October 2015 newsletter from the European Union for Progressive Judaism.

Click here to download.


Read Torah from Around the World #295: Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1 – 22:24)
The Morning After: Iran, Ishmael, and Isaac
By Rabbi Mark L. Winer, President of FAITH: the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony since 1995. MBE PhD DD is a British/American interfaith scholar and leader. In 2014 Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his “services to interfaith dialogue and social cohesion in London and the UK.”

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