VaYera: Family Ties

“Take your son, your only son, the one you love, v'lech lecha, and go for yourself to the land of Moriah” (Breisheet 22:2). So begins the command of G-d demanding the sacrifice of Yitzchak. After waiting so long to have a child with Sarah, Avraham was commanded to take his child and return him to G-d. In the face of such a command Avraham was silent—or shall we say speechless?—unable to comprehend the Divine will even as he arose early to carry it out.

VaYera: The Man of Prayer

Our tradition teaches that the founder of the Jewish people, Abraham, is the one who introduced the notion of daily prayer to the world. “And Abraham awoke in the morning to the place, el hamakom, where he had stood, asher amad sham, before G-d” (Breisheet 19:27). Though prayer is not actually mentioned in the above verse, our sages interpreted the word amad, where he stood, as a reference to prayer, stating that “there is no standing other than prayer”.

Vayera: 20/20 Vision

It is a truism that two people can look at the same thing, yet see something quite different. One person might see a beautiful piece of art, whereas his neighbour sees nothing but a few scribbly lines on canvas. Similarly, what for one is the most pleasant of sounds, for another is the most annoying of noises. And what for one is the most uplifting poetry is for another just incomprehensible words. And on and on it goes, whether in the worlds of sports, business, or nature; what one senses is dependent on one's ability to appreciate that which is before him. 

Vayera: No Secrets

“And G-d said: Am I going to hide from Abraham that which I will do?” The city of Sedom was a thriving metropolis and the home of Lot, Abraham’s nephew and potential successor. He had chosen to live there because it reminded him of the great civilization of Egypt, from whence he had just returned. Its rich gardens and advanced commerce meant little as their moral decadence and cruelty to the disadvantaged reached unbearable levels.

Breisheet: The Descent of Man

The creation narrative has the world in beautiful harmony. Heaven and earth, sky and water, sun and moon, man and woman and in the view of our sages, the [yet to be created] Jewish people and Shabbat. Even the order of creation evokes symmetry and harmony. The light of day one leads to the sun of day four; the sky and the water of day two is the backdrop to the birds and the fish of day five; and the dry land of day three is the habitat of man and mammal created on day six. On day seven, we return to a "pre-creation" mode, ceasing from physical creativity on the Shabbat.

Chayei Sarah: Beyond Death

Our patriarchs and matriarchs did not have easy lives. Each faced problems of famine, of wandering from place to place, of foreign rulers, and of course, problems with their children. Our founding mothers and fathers often disagreed, sharply at times, on the most basic of decisions relating to the raising of their families. The dispute between Abraham and Sarah as to the place of Yishmael in their household was so fierce that G-d had to intervene, instructing Abraham to listen to Sarah (whose insight was apparently much better than her husband's).

VaYishlach: Changing Names

Names play a significant role in Jewish thought. A cursory glance at the names given to the twelve tribes signifies the importance of each name. Noach, Moshe, and Yitzchak had their names chosen to commemorate events surrounding their births. And of course, the Torah records many instances where a name was changed, signifying a change in the status of the person. Of our three patriarchs, Abraham and Yaakov both had their names changed by G-d. Only Yitzchak remained Yitzchak his entire life.


Subscribe to RSS - Abraham