• August 28th, 2022
  • Elul 1st, 5782


He Appeared

Presented By
Torah Contributor

The Secret Energy of Guests

This week's portion, Vayeira, commences with Abraham sitting outside his tent in the extraordinary heat. He is recuperating from being circumcised just three days prior from making his covenant with G-d. While G-d is visiting with him, three men approach his tent and he leaps to his feet to attend to the strangers. Despite his excruciating pain and the heat of the day, Abraham demonstrates his role as the ultimate host, inviting them into his home to rest, to eat and drink. We learn from Abraham's actions the importance sharing with others and going beyond our comfort zones - pushing beyond personal discomfort in order to share. In fact, since he was speaking with G-d when the guests appeared, the commentators suggest that Abraham considered the act of hospitality and sharing a greater act than speaking with G-d and connecting directly with the divine presence. Oftentimes, we perceive our acts of sharing or being a gracious host as benefiting the guest or the recipient of our actions. However, the Light of mercy we reveal when we share is so powerful that it is the person that shares who really benefits. We must learn to fully appreciate our guests and those with whom we share as they provide us with the unique opportunity to draw down and connect to the energy of mercy in our lives.

Sarah Laughed

When the guests had finished eating and were preparing to leave, one of the men (an angel) tells Abraham that he will return next year and his wife Sarah will have a son. Sarah, who was listening at the entrance to the tent, laughed about this seemingly impossible event (based on her age). G-d questions Abraham why Sarah laughed and suggests that there is nothing beyond the eternal, nothing G-d cannot do, and confirms that she will have a son. This section of the portion shines a light on a key area of potential spiritual growth. It is important to recognize that everything is truly possible. Even though our limited perception of reality may indicate limitation, G-d, the eternal energy of the universe, is not limited to the physical realm. In this reading, we can connect to the energy of miracles and overcome things we previously thought were impossible.

Light from Darkness

The portion tells the story of how Lot (Abraham's nephew), moved to a cave with his two daughters in order to be spared from the wrath of G-d during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The daughters fret that there is no other man with whom they can marry and wish to "preserve the seed" of their father. They hatch a plan to get Lot drunk and to "lie" with him in the hopes of getting pregnant. The older daughter lies with Lot on the first night and the younger daughter lies with him on the next. There are only a few places in the Torah where there are dots above certain letters. This occurs in Vayeira over the letter Vav in the word "uvkumah" which means "when she arose". The word is used in connection with the eldest daughter rising from the incestuous act with her father. The Zohar (Vayeira 23:310) indicates that the dot over the word - which is seen only in connection with the eldest daughter's act, shows that there was "help from above in performing that action, which was ultimately the result in the birth of the Messiah". Specifically, the eldest daughter gave birth to a son named Moab who became the father of the Moabites. Ruth was a descendant of the Moabites and her great grandson was David. It is suggested that the Messiah will come from the "house" of David. We can see a genealogical connection here from the extremely negative act of incest between Lot and his daughter, to the potential for the ultimate revelation of Light with the birth of the Messiah - a period of freedom and peace. The message for us is to recognize that we always have the opportunity to transform what may appear to be negative into a positive act filled with Light and blessing.

The Akeida - Spiritual Certainty

We read in Vayeira the famous story of the Binding of Isaac or the Akeida. In the story, G-d asks Abraham to sacrifice his son to show his unfettered loyalty. Abraham binds Isaac to an altar and G-d stops him at the last minute. A literal interpretation of the story shows us how Abraham was tested by G-d and how his certainty in carrying out G-d's request resulted in a positive outcome. G-d agreed to provide him with a double blessing and to multiply his descendants to exceed the "stars in the heavens and the sand on the seashore". The act by Abraham set into motion the process of subordinating ourselves to G-d and recognizing there is something beyond ourselves and our ego. As a spiritual pioneer, Abraham made it easier for others to follow in his ways and to look beyond ourselves in order to connect to a higher level of consciousness. The Kabbalists suggest a deeper spiritual meaning whereby Abraham, who embodies the energy of sharing and mercy (Chesed), binds Isaac, representative of the energy of severity and judgment (Gevurah). By using our free will to restrict and bind judgment in our lives, we can transform the desire to receive for ourselves into the desire to share. We can connect to this transformation in the reading this week in order to reveal the Light of mercy in our lives.