Weekly Reading Insights: Vayera 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Vayera

To be read on 17 Cheshvan 5766 (Nov.19)

Torah: Gen. 18:1-22:24; Haftorah: Kings II 4:1-37 (because of v.22, similar to the angels' promise to Avraham)

Vayera is the 4th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 4th overall, and 5th out of 54 in overall length.

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:0466/Vayera)

[Why does the angel repeat Abraham's name?] Because every tzadik in this world has two souls, one in This World and one in the World to Come. So one finds with every tzadik [that at one point or another in the Torah, his name is repeated]: "Moses, Moses" (Ex. 3:4); "Jacob! Jacob!" (Gen. 46:2); "Samuel! Samuel!" (Samuel I 3:4); "Shem! Shem!" (Gen. 11:10).

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:0466/Vayera)

Eshkol personified yesod [of Zeir Anpin], which is associated with the name Sha-dai, and causes the states of chesed within the name Eh-yeh, which is associated with Imma, to descend. This is indicated by the fact that the numerical value of the regression of Eh-yeh is 44, as you know, and thus the combined numerical value [of this regression] and the name Sha-dai is the same as that of Eshkol [plus the kolel].

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

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From Rabbeinu Bachya (S:0466/Vayera)

The apparently strange phenomenon in this paragraph, that G-d is the one who subjects Abraham to the trial whereas the angel prevented him from going through with it, needs to be understood as follows: The "angel" mentioned in our paragraph is not of the category of the "nifradim" ["disembodied spiritual creatures"], but it belonged to what are known as the "netiyot" ["the emanations of G-d", a divine voice much closer to G-d's Essence than "mere" angels].

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


"He was sitting at the door of the tent." (18:1)
The sign of a true righteous person is that he always considers himself "at the door," on the outside, as if his deeds have not yet accomplished anything.
(Toldot Yaakov Yosef)

"They said, So do as you have said." (18:5)
The way of tzadikim is to say little, yet do much. The angels knew that Abraham was a tzadik, and that he would go out of his way - above and beyond what he had already offered - to make them feel at ease. They therefore asked him to "do as he had said" with regard to their comfort, and no more.
(Torat Moshe)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"And G-d appeared to him in the grove of Mamrei, as he was sitting at the door of the tent in the heat of the day." (Gen. 18:1)
When Moshiach comes the entire world will bask in the revelation of the Divine Presence, which will cause an actual physical healing of the sick, just as G-d's appearance to Abraham healed his wound after his circumcision. "In the heat of the day" refers to the saying of our Sages that in the World to Come, "G-d will remove the sun (symbolic of G-d) from its sheath, and the righteous (every single Jew) will be healed [by its warmth]."
[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:0466/Vayera)

You can experience the coming redemption and transformation of the world by living with the twelve Torah portions of Genesis! The first portion begins with the words, "Bereishit", 'In the beginning G-d created'. The purpose of the whole creation is to allow us to reach the first word of the second portion, "Noach", which means 'to rest'. Achieving complete rest is the ultimate purpose of the world and is the fruition of all our work. This is the reason that the third portion commands us to get moving-"Lech Lecha"-'you should GO'. This verse is speaking to the soul of a Jew while it is still in Heaven commanding it to descend and become enclothed in the physical body. Only when it takes the plunge into this lowly and spiritually perilous world can it merit the first words of this week's portion, "Vayera", 'and G-d revealed Himself [to Avraham]'. Why does G-d reveal Himself to us? So that a person, who is the combination of a physical body and spiritual soul, can meet the challenges of the world and fulfill his purpose. But then, the next portion shakes us out of our complacency. We did not just come into the world to do the spiritual tasks alone, studying Torah and doing G-d's commandments. We must also go out of our own space and make an impact on the people around us. This is hinted in the words of the next portion, "Chayei Sara", meaning the 'life of Sara', because Sara our foremother never rested from her efforts to bring the women she came in contact with to G-dliness. Sara also means 'master' and 'ruler' because she was always in control of her thoughts, speech and actions. Only when we are in control of what we do can we guarantee that we will have "Toldot", the first word of the following portion, meaning 'offspring' or 'results', referring to the good effects in all the areas that we invest ourselves.

Where are these results? They are hinted at in the next two portions, "Vayetze Yaacov"-'Yaacov went out', a hint to the soul's descent from heaven into this world where it is so easy to become entangled in the schemes of the unscrupulous Lavan or other worldly obstacles. But then we are inspired by Yaacov, who even in Charan, the depths of exile, was careful to fulfill all 613 commandments. And just when you think you are safe on your way back home, you are met by the likes of Esav, as the next portion begins, "Vayishlach"-Yaacov sent messengers to Esav-but even Esav will not detain us, and we will surely be victorious.

When the struggles come to an end, a person reaches the next portion, "Vayeshev"-'And he sat'-now serving G-d by sitting in peace and tranquility during the time of "Miketz"-'from the end'-referring to the end of the days of exile.

And finally, there is "Vayigash"-'and he approached'-since in that era it will be possible to finally come to a level of complete unity with our Creator, to the point at which we can experience the first word of the last portion, "Vayechi"-'and he lived'. This is the final step in the journey of the world to its completion: techiat hamaytim, the coming back to life of every single Jew as is foretold in the prophets. This eternal life will herald us into the final and complete redemption.

Shabbat Shalom - Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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