Parshat Vayera: October 23, 2021 – 17 Cheshvan 5782

Erev Shabbat

Friday, October 22

  • Candle lighting: 6:01 pm

Parshat Vayera
Shabbat, October 23

  • Stone Chumash p. 78
  • 147 Psukim (verses)
  •  Haftorah: II Kings Ch. 4 “Ve’Isha Achat” Stone Chumash p. 1134

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting: 6:01 pm
  • Vasikin (Sunrise): 7:17:16 am
  • Latest Morning Shma: 10:02 am
  • Earliest Mincha: 1:16 pm
  • Havdalah: 7:03 pm
  • Zoom Havdalah: 7:18 pm

Parshat Vayera

Avraham is recuperating from his recent surgery and is visited by three angels. In spite of his pain, he tends to the angels’ needs. He is then informed by them that in one year’s time, he and Sarah will become parents. Sarah laughs from incredulity. G-d assures Avraham that this will come to pass.

G-d informs Avraham that he intends to destroy Sodom, and her four sister cities. Avraham, the ultimate man of kindness, tries to intervene, pleading to G-d,  but to no avail. The angels manage to save Lot and his family before destroying the city. Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt. The scandal of Lot and his daughters. Avraham moves to Gerar, near Gaza. King Avimelech abducts Sarah, and Sarah repulses his advances. Avimelech enters into a treaty with Avraham regarding well rights, and quickly violates those treaties. Eventually they enter into a peace accord at Be’er Sheva. The story of the binding of Yitzchak.

Akeidat Yitzchak- the Binding of Isaac

The story of the Binding of Isaac is probably one of the most difficult stories of the Torah to comprehend. Yet because of its importance, it is read twice a year: once on the second day of Rosh Hashana, and today in the regular order of the Parshiot.

We moderns are troubled by this parsha for two reasons: 1) Why would G-d demand of Abraham to fulfill such an absurd command? 2) How could Abraham so willingly comply without so much as a minor protest?

As to the second problem, it could be argued that Avraham was actually conforming to the standard rules of prophecy. A proven prophet is obligated to fulfill his mission, even if it negates a negative command of the Torah (in this case, “Thou shall not kill”), it being clearly understood that this directive is of a temporary nature (see Rambam Yesodei Torah Ch. 9).

But still, why would G-d command Abraham to follow such a difficult devoir, and to what purpose?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that G-d knew that, in the future, Abraham’s descendants would all too often be forced to make heart-wrenching decisions, even to the point of Mesirat Nefesh or martyrdom. That possibility needed to be planted into the hearts of all future descendants of Abraham. How would that lesson ultimately be taught to the people of Israel? The answer lies in Abraham’s own willingness to commit the ultimate sacrifice!

Mitzva of the Week: Mitzva # 338

It is a negative commandment not to insult or injure your neighbor with words. The Talmud in Baba Metziah 58b explains: If your friend is a ba’al teshuva (repentant) you must not tell him, “Remember your old ways! Yesterday, you ate non-kosher, violated the Sabbath, and today you are holier than thou.” Similarly, if one meets buyers of wheat, don’t tell them that they may find a seller over there, and you know well that that person has nothing to sell, thus causing those buyers to go on a wild goose chase. Neither should you ask a shopkeeper how much he wants for a particular item, when in reality you have no interest in buying it. Finally, one must not needlessly hurt someone’s feelings. To do so would be in violation of this law. It is especially important not to embarrass someone, as it states: “He who embarrasses a neighbor is considered as if he committed murder, and he forfeits his share in the world to come.” This mitzvah applies at all times, at all places, and includes men, women, and even children.

Shabbat Shalom!