Weekly Reading Insights: VaYera 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: VaYera

To be read on 20 Cheshvan 5764 (Nov. 15)

VaYera is the 4th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 4th overall, and 5th out of 54 in overall length.
Torah: Gen.18:1-22:24; Haftorah: Kings II 4:1-37 (because of v.22, similar to the angels' promise to Avraham)
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

Avraham interrupted a conversation with G-d to run and offer three people walking by a rest stop and food. They were angels from G-d, who told him that Sarah would have a son next year, and that G-d was about to wipe out Sodom. Avraham prayed for the people there. The messengers continued to Sodom, and were invited home by Lot. They told Lot to flee with his family, and not to look back. They ran, but his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. The five cities were destroyed. Lot and his two daughters moved into a cave. Thinking they were sole survivors in the world, the daughters got their father drunk and had his sons.

Avraham visited Gerar, announcing that Sarah was his sister. The king Avimelech took her, but G-d told him in a dream that she was already married and that he must return her to her husband. Sarah gave birth to Yitzchak, whom Avraham circumcised when he was eight days old. Avraham sent Hagar and Yishmael away, as Sarah did not want Yitzchak to share his inheritance. G-d promised Hagar that Yishmael would also become a great nation. Avraham and Avimelech made an oath regarding the well which Avraham had dug, and a peace treaty. G-d tested Avraham and told him to bring his son Yitzchak as an offering. At the last moment a voice from heaven stopped him, telling him that he had proved his faith. Avraham offered a ram instead. G-d blessed him that he would have many descendants.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:03-64/Lech Lecha )

In the 600th year of the 6th millennium [1840 CE] the supernal gates of wisdom will be opened [the spreading of Zohar, Chasidut and the inner dimension of Torah], and also the wellsprings of wisdom below [the Industrial Revolution and technological advances like radio, Boolean Algebra (which led to the possibility of computers), the locomotive, telephone etc.]. This will prepare the world for the 7th millennium like a person prepares himself on Friday for Shabbat, as the sun begins to wane. So it will be here [all the world will hurry up its preparations, physically and spiritually, for greeting the 7th millennium]. There is a hint about this in the verse "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life ...all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened" (Gen. 7:11).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:04-64//vaYera )

In this covenant, G-d promises Abraham the land of Israel in exchange for his children going into exile. It is called "the covenant between the parts" since it was "endorsed" by Abraham and G-d (represented by a pillar of fire) passing in between the severed halves of several animals. The idea expressed was: "just as these halves are not complete without each other, so are the two of us not complete without the pact that binds us together."

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:04-64/VaYera )

I have also explained that one must not conceive of G-d as having "changed His mind", having abandoned a previous plan, seeing that, "He is not human that He should have regrets" (Num. 23:9).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


G-d rained upon Sodom and Gomora brimstone and fire." (19:24)
At the present time Sodom remains in its ruined state. However, when Moshiach comes and evil will be completely removed from the earth, Sodom will return to its original state of blessing and beauty, as it says, (Ezek. 16) "I will return the captivity of Sodom."
Sefer HaParshiot (from L'Chaim #241)

G-d, Himself, will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." (22:8)
Rashi explains that Isaac also knew that he was going to be sacrificed. Nonetheless, "they went both of them together," with equal resolve and with one heart. Isaac's willingness to be sacrificed did not detract from Abraham's trial. On the contrary, it made it that much more difficult for Abraham to consider sacrificing such a righteous son.
Chidushei HaRim (from L'Chaim #241)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:04-64/VaYera )

This week's parasha begins with Abraham welcoming guests, who are, in fact, messenger angels. The Talmud writes that taking in guests is "greater than receiving the Divine Presence" (Shabbat 127a), and we see that Abraham interrupted a revelation from G-d in order to invite passers-by to his home. The Baal Shem Tov writes that the Hebrew word for "guest" - "oray'ach" (spelled alef -vav-reish-chet) can be broken into two parts: alef -vav-reish, spelling the Hebrew word for "light" - "or" and the letter chet. Kabbalistically speaking, the letter chet, which is the eighth in the alef-bet, relates with the attribute of bina, the eighth sefira from the bottom. Bina indicates expansion, illumination, the source of all influences and salvation - the source of all blessing. When we welcome guests in our home, we do them a kindness; but even greater, this mitzvah opens up the spiritual source of blessings for our home.

"[G-d] revealed himself to him (Abraham) in (b)'Ailonay Momray". (Gen. 18:1)
The initials of these four consecutive Hebrew words correspond to the four kingdoms who exiled the Jewish people: alef - Edom (Rome); yud - Yavan (Greece); bet - Bavel (Babylonia); mem - Madai (Medea). G-d was revealing the future exiles of the Jewish people to our forefather, Abraham, and giving him an opportunity to pray on behalf of his descendents. (from Migaleh Amukot and Toldot Noach).

Divrei Elimelech asks, "How could it be that in the midst of this prophecy, Abraham asks G-d to wait while he invites guests into his home? How could Abraham interrupt G-d on the grounds of being hospitable? Surely, one would not interrupt a meeting with a very important person in order to speak to "simple folk"; how much more so when speaking to G-d Himself! An analogy can answer this question: A son wants his father to come visit. Of course, a father is much happier to see his son when the son is joyous than when his son is distressed and unhappy. Therefore, the son will choose a time for the visit when he is an appropriate mood. This way the son redoubles his father's joy in visiting his son. About what was Abraham so distressed that he wanted to postpone his conversation with G-d?

Every Jew is connected to Abraham, and his deeds affect his descendents forever. G-d's revelation of the difficult future exiles of the Jews was very upsetting to Abraham. Abraham was the embodiment of the attribute of kindness, chesed. He wanted kindness to be drawn into those years of exile in order to "sweeten the severity", empowering the Jews to persevere. When the guests arrived in the midst of the revelation, Abraham deduced that they were connected to the issue, and the key to helping his descendents in their exiles. Therefore, Abraham excused himself from his conversation with G-d. By taking care of his guests, and asking them to bless G-d for providing their needs, he brought chesed into the times of exile. His disposition soon changed to one of great enthusiasm upon tending to his guests. Abraham was relieved and happy to know that his descendents would experience chesed even under the burdens of exile. Through the joy of attaining his goal, Abraham knew he would be better prepared to finish his discussion. G-d certainly would prefer to see his child in a happy frame of mind than the opposite. This is as it says (Psalm 101) "Serve G-d with joy; come before him with joy"; be happy, and then approach G-d.

May we merit to serve G-d and connect to Him - and may we do so amidst happiness, thereby increasing His joy in us. May we experience the chesed of the end of the exiles with the redemption, NOW!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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