(Genesis 18:1-22:24)

(Haftara: II Kings 4:1-37)

  1. [18:3] “…please don’t pass by your servant.” Avraham convinces the 3 angels to accept his hospitality. Based on this story, our tradition teaches us that having guests (hachnassat orchim) is a very important commandment. Is this commandment performed in the best way when the guests are needy, or when they are friends and neighbours, or when they ask to be invited? What is the best way of performing this commandment?
  2. [18:13] “And God said to Avraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh…'” Avraham also laughed when he was told that he would have a son [17:17]. Why does God question Sarah’s laughter, but not Avraham’s?
  3. [18:19] “…to keep the way of God, to do kindness [tzedaka] and justice…” In Hebrew, the word tzedaka means justice, charity and kindness. What is the significance of the fact that giving charity is a type of justice? How does this differ from the Western notion of charity?
  4. [18:23]   “…will you destroy the righteous with the wicked.” Avraham stands in front of the all-powerful Creator of the universe in order to defend the righteous of Sdom from the Creator. What does this act show about Avraham, and what does it demand of us, his descendants?
  5. [Haftara: Kings II, 4:2] “…your servant has nothing in the house except for a pot of oil”. The blessing that Elisha brings to the woman is based on something that she already has. What does this tell us about the nature of receiving spiritual and physical blessings in general?

Commentary

[18:25]    “…will the Judge of all the earth not act justly.”

…Israel, the Justice-intoxicated people, in time became “merciful children of merciful ancestors”. The boldness of the Patriarch’s ringing challenge, the universality of the phrase “all the earth”, and the absolute conviction that the infinite might of God must be controlled by the decrees of Justice—that, in fact, an unjust God would be a contradiction in terms—are truly extraordinary.

–R. Yosef Tzvi Hertz, 1872-1946, England.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer