(Genesis 18:1-22:24)

(Haftara: II Kings 4:1-37)

1. [18:13] “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Can I give birth when I am so old’”. God told Avraham that Sarah had said that she was too old to have a child. But really Sarah had also said that Avraham was too old to have a child. Rashi tells us that God had lied to Avraham for the sake of peace in the household, and Jewish law allows lying for the sake of peace. What does it mean to lie for the sake of peace? Can a child lie when he or she breaks something in the house?  If he lies, there will be peace with his parents. Where does one draw the line in relation to “lying for peace”?

2.  [18:19] “…to keep the way of God, to do kindness and justice…”  God favours Avraham because his descendants will practice God’s way and spread kindness and justice.  If kindness and justice were the major policies of individuals and countries would that be enough to make a perfect society?

3. [22:5] “I and the boy will go there, and we will pray, and we will return to you.”    There are commentaries which say that Avraham did not lie here, because he knew that God wouldn’t really allow him to sacrifice his son.  The “sacrifice” of Yitzchak is considered Avraham’s last and hardest test.  If Avraham was confident that there would be no sacrifice, then what was the test? How was God testing Avraham?

4. [Haftara–Kings II, 4:3] “‘Go borrow vessels’…”  Elisha told the woman to bring him vessels so that he could do the miracle of giving her oil. The amount of oil would depend on the number of vessels.  If Elisha can miraculously produce an unlimited amount of oil, then why doesn’t he miraculously produce vessels?

5. [Haftara–Kings II, 4:35] “…and the child opened his eyes.” Both this story and the story of Sara and Yitzchak tell us of a miraculous birth, great thanks on the part of the parents, death or near-death of the child, and a rebirth and continuation of life. Our sages tell us that these stories are told in order to teach us life lessons. What are these two stories teaching us?

Commentary

…King David’s main aspiration (in the Psalms) was to encourage every Jew to hold fast to God throughout all of life’s trials. Even if a person feels like he is in the depths of hell, he should never abandon hope, God forbid…If a person can hold onto God, even “from the ends of the earth,” he will experience an incredible sense of renewal.

–R. Nosson of Breslov, 1780-1844, Ukraine.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

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