Parshat Vayera

(Genesis 18:1-22:24)

(Haftara: II Kings 4:1-37)

  1. [18:13] “God said to Avraham, “Why did Sara laugh, saying ‘Will I really give birth when I am so old’”. God told Avraham that Sarah had said that she was too old to have a child. Rashi tells us that God had lied to Avraham here.  Really Sarah had also said that Avraham was too old to have a child, and our tradition allows lying for the sake of peace. Why didn’t God tell the truth to show how much we value the truth?
  2. [18:24] “Maybe there are 50 righteous…” Why did Avraham negotiate with God?  Why didn’t he simply say that for the sake of even 10 righteous people the cities should not be destroyed?
  3. [19:8] “…I have two daughters…” When the people of Sdom wanted to rape Lot’s guests, Lot said that he would give them his young virgin daughters. Lot made a moral choice which may not have been the best choice.  We often prefer situations where the correct moral choice is more obvious. What does the Torah want to teach us by putting people into difficult moral situations?
  4. [22:2] “And He said, “Take your son, your only son…” Our tradition understands the commandment to sacrifice Yitzchak  as Avraham’s last trial. It seems, however, that God commanded him and Avraham was ready to do this without hesitation. Why is this a trial?
  5. [Haftara–Kings II, 4:3]  “And he said, “Go borrow vessels…”  Elisha told the woman to bring him vessels so that he could do the miracle of giving her oil. We are told in our spiritual tradition that one has to have a vessel in order to be blessed.  What does it mean to have a vessel and how does one develop a vessel for oneself?

Commentary

The light that comes from the source of the soul has a special character. The light that is drawn from words and thoughts of Torah has a special character. And the light that is drawn from knowledge of the world and  its phenomena also has a special character. The wholeness of a person comes when one can unite these three factors and lights, and they can nurture and affect each other. There are many colours in fire,  and this is why we bless for Havdalah:  “Blessed is He who creates the lights of the fire.

–R. A. Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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