(Genesis 18:1-22:24)

(Haftara: II Kings 4:1-37)

1. [18:13] 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. Is this really so wise?  Perhaps God should have told the truth to show how much we value the truth.

2. [18:25] “Will the judge of all the earth not do justice?” Why did God have to be reminded that He is the judge of all the earth? How can it be that Avraham sounds more just than God?

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. [22:3] “…and he saddled his donkey…”  The midrash says that this is the same donkey that Moshe rode to Egypt (Shmot 4:20), and the same donkey upon which the Mashiach will arrive (Zechariah 9:9).  How does the midrash understand this metaphor of the donkey?

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

Midrash: “Bringing guests into one’s home is more important than being with God”.

This is coming to teach us that even though having guests involves some negative things—one doesn’t learn as much during this time, and one might get involved in gossiping and so on—nonetheless “bringing guests into one’s home is more important than being with God”.

–Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer , The Ba’al Shem Tov, (1700-1760)

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