VaYera

VaYera: Moving Out of Town

One of the fundamental issues of debate amongst observant Jews regards the degree of openness with which one meets the surrounding culture. Should we “ghettoize” ourselves, trying to avoid the negative and pernicious influences of the outside world? Or must we engage the world about us, influencing it and being influenced by it, even if it entails some degree of risk? One must weigh many factors in determining the answer to this question, one that dates back at least to the time of Avraham Avinu. 

VaYerah: Living in Sedom

“And the people of Sedom were evil and sinners towards G-d beyond all measure” (Breisheet 13:13). Despite their depravity, Avraham Avinu argued, challenged, pleaded and negotiated with G-d for their welfare. It is specifically this trait of caring and concern for “evil” people—a trait that characterized all the Avot and Imahot—that demonstrates their greatness. They may have despised the evil of Sedom, but the people of Sedom were to be spared.

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: Family Ties

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

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.
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