Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary
Furthermore, the fact that the Torah does not indicate that G-d said anything to Avraham at this "appearance", tells us that He had another purpose, viz. Bikur Cholim. This how the commentaries teach us that G-d was visiting the sick, even though the written word does not say that at all.
He is sitting at the entrance of his tent (watching for travelers to welcome) in the heat of the day.
SDT It was unnaturally hot; that was G-d's doing, to spare Avraham the bother of visitors, He removed the sun from its envelope... However, Avraham is distressed by the absence of visitors, so G-d sends three angels to him in the guise of wayfarers. This can teach us something about how to behave towards the elderly and infirm. Sometimes, we insist that they rest or tell them what "conventional wisdom" says is good or bad for them. "No, don't bother with that; I'll do it for you." "I turned up the heat for you." But each person is an individual. Calm, peaceful retirement works well for many older people. But not for everyone. Bed rest and taking things easy is a helpful formula for SOME recovering invalids. But not all. G-d, so to speak, first felt that Avraham needed rest; this would be the norm. But He then "realized" (so to speak) that in Avraham's case, his special activity of Hachnasat Orchim, hospitality, was a far better treatment for what ailed him, than resting.
Avraham sees the three "men" and runs to greet them, after asking G-d to wait for him (so to speak). (From here we are taught the greatness of the mitzva of Hachnasat Orchim.)
This is one of the ways to interpret the pasuk - that ADO-NAI means G-d, and that Avraham was addressing Him. ADONAI can also mean "my sirs", in which case Avraham could have been speaking to the men/angels. Each possibility causes minor awkwardness in the flow of the p'sukim. The word is considered holy (meaning the first opinion prevails), and Sofrim write it with the Kavana for G-d's name, but some say that one should use a conditional "sanctification".
SDT "Speak little, but do much." This maxim from Pirkei Avot is manifest in Avraham Avinu's behavior. He offers the angels a bit of water and some bread, but in fact prepares for them (with the help of Sara and Yishmael) a sumptuous meal. The Mishna states that Avraham's meal for the strangers was proportionally greater than even the feast of Shlomo HaMelech in celebration of the building of the Beit HaMikdash. Avraham and Sarah are the ultimate models for hospitality, one of the hallmarks of the Jewish People.
One of the angels informs Avraham of the pending birth of Yitzchak. Sara's reaction is to laugh (a slight doubt in the ability of a 100 year old to father a child and of a 90 year old woman to give birth). G-d asks Avraham why Sara would doubt His ability to permit an old woman to conceive.
SDT Rabbi Yehuda says in the name of Rav (in Bava M'tzi'a): What Avraham did for his guests by himself, G-d did for the People of Israel by Himself; what Avraham did via another, G-d did likewise. Avraham said: YUKACH NA M'AT MAYIM. Rashi explains the strange grammatical form by saying that Avraham did not provide the water to the strangers himself (it does not say K'CHU...) So too, when G-d was to provide water to Avraham's descendants, He commanded Moshe Rabeinu to throw the stick into the water, to strike the rock, to speak to the rock. But Avraham fed the angels himself - "and I will get the bread, etc." When G-d needed to feed the People, He provided us with Manna. Moshe did not bring it about. G-d gave it straight to the People.
Levi - Second Aliya - 19 p'sukim - 18:15-33
The three angels each had a single task: One to heal Avraham, one to announce the birth of Yitzchak (both missions accomplished), the third to destroy S'dom. That angel is now accompanied by R'fael, whose new task is to save Lot and family. Avraham escorts the angels on their way to S'dom.
SDT Once again, we learn the proper behavior of a host from Avraham: part of hospitality is to escort your guests as they leave your home.
HaShem next tells Avraham of his intention to destroy S'dom. Avraham pleads and bargains on their behalf, but there aren't enough righteous people to save the cities.
The dialog between Avraham and HaShem is an astounding (and unique) example of the close relationship between them.
SDT Avraham's expression of humility before G-d is "and I am dust and ash". Says the Gemara, because of Avraham's humility, his children merited two mitzvot - the ash of the Para Aduma and the dust of the Sota. Torah T'mima explains that the Para Aduma ash is the epitome of spiritual purity (which can be thought of as the realm of "between the Jew and G-d" mitzvot). The hopeful outcome of the Sota procedure is Shalom Bayit, being a major example of interpersonal relationships. Thus the reward for Avraham covers the whole range of Jewish life.
SDT The word "and he lingered" is read with the rare trup mark, the shalshelet, which musically emphasizes the reluctance of Lot to (believe what he was told by the angels and) leave. The same word is used in contrast to this behavior of Lot, in describing the haste with which the Children of Israel left Egypt at G-d's command, symbolized by the matza which they hastily baked rather than linger for the dough to rise and produce a "proper" bread demonstrating their faith and confidence in G-d. Interesting, is it not, that Lot is described as baking matzot for the visitors. Rashi's comment: It was Pesach.
Lot is led out of the city by the angels, his wife and two daughters with him. They are told to flee for their lives, without looking back at the destruction of the cities. Lot pleads for permission to seek refuge closer by.
From the episode of Lotís wife, we can draw the following point. Lot and family were worthy of being spared the destruction of Sídom, but they were not worthy enough to be able to witness the destruction.
"And Avraham gets up early in the morning to the place where he STOOD before G-d."
SDT Avraham returns to the same spot to speak to G-d. From here is derived the idea of having a MAKOM KAVUA, a fixed place for prayer. The Talmud says: "he who fixes himself a place for davening, the G-d of Avraham will help him".
Of course, more fundamentally, it is this pasuk and another that combine to "support" the Gemara's statement that Avraham instituted T'filat Shacharit. That AMIDA, to stand before G-d, means to pray is learned from VAYA'AMOD PINCHAS VAY'PALEIL. And Pinchas stood in prayer (we can say) - T'hilim 106:30. The pasuk here in Vayeira links AMIDA with Avraham Avinu and with early in the morning, hence Shacharit.
The Torah reiterates the point that Lot was saved in the merit of his uncle Avraham Avinu (and Ruth, the "mother of royalty" who was to come from Lot - G-d can work merit either from the past or the future).
Lot's two daughters, having witnessed the total destruction of S'dom, assume that they are the sole survivors of mankind. They plot to get Lot drunk and sleep with him in order to continue humanity. Moav and Amon are the results.
Ponder that everything that has happened so far in Parshat Vayeira, make up a single long, 71-pasuk parsha. From the arrival of the angels through the completion of the final task of those angels - the destruction of S'dom. Apparently, the different episodes all belong together more than one would initially think.
[S> 20:1 (18)] Avraham and Sara now travel to G'rar where they again present themselves as brother and sister. Sara is taken to Avimelech, but G-d appears to him and warns him not to touch her. Avimelech confronts Avraham who explains that his fears were based on the lack of "Fear of G-d" in the place.
Avraham then prays on behalf of Avimelech and his people who were stricken with a disease which rendered them temporarily sterile.
From this point (21:1) to the end of Vayeira, is the Torah reading of both days of Rosh HaShana.
[S> 21:1 (21)] G-d fulfills His promise and Sara becomes pregnant. She bears a son to Avraham in his advanced age, and he is called Yitzchak. Avraham circumcises Yitzchak at eight days of age, as G-d has commanded.
Avraham's having prayed on behalf of Avimelech for children is juxtaposed to Sara Imeinu conceiving. Our Sage teach us that selflessly praying for others can sometimes result in the same prayers being answered for yourself.
Although the plain understanding of B'YOM HIGAMEIL ET YITZCHAK is "when Yitzchak was weaned" - Rashi says at 24 months of age, there is a REMEZ (hint/clue) in the word HIGAMEIL to a possible other explanation of the word. HEI+GIMMEL = 8 (days), MEM-LAMED, MAL, was circumcised. It can mean that the party in question was to celebrate Yitzchak's BRIT.
As Yitzchak is growing up, Sara notices the potential negative influence of Yishmael and demands of Avraham that he send Yishmael and his mother, Hagar, away.
Blinded by his great "kind heart", Avraham has to be told by G-d to listen to Sara. Hagar and Yishmael once again are on the verge of death in the wilderness, butYishmael's prayers are answered and they are saved. Hagar is assured by an angel that they will survive.
And indeed they do, and Hagar subsequently marries Yishmael off to a woman from the land of Egypt.
Both Hagar and Yishmael prayed to G-d when Yishmael was dying. G-d heard "the lad's voice". Rashi says, from here we learn that the strongest prayer offered on behalf of someone who is ill are those of the sick person himself (if he is able to pray on his own behalf). And, of course, others should pray on his behalf as well, regardless of whether the person himself is able to daven.)
Avraham plants an "Eshel" in Be'er Sheva. In addition to being a type of tree, the word ESHEL is considered an acronym of the Hebrew words for Food, Drink, and Lodgings (or Food, Sleeping, Escort). ESHEL AVRAHAM is the symbol of hospitality for all times.
Although none of Avraham's descendants (we, the Jewish People) can ever be tested in so drastic a way (because we have the experiences of our predecessors to give us strength), we do derive tremendous inspiration from this portion of the Torah. It is part of our Heritage and, even more, part of our Essence. Tests of Faith are relative to the individual. Each of us is challenged in different ways throughout our lives. This is also so for us as a Nation. May we be always guided by deep commitment to Torah and Jewish values.
MORE. Akeidat Yitzchak is our identity card. It define who
we are... even when our own behavior is contradictory to our Torah
standards. We stand before G-d on Judgment Day - Rosh HaShana, and we blow
the Shofar made from a ram's horn. We ask G-d to remember Akeidat Yitzchak
and have mercy on His (sometimes undeserving) children. We read the Akeida
in the Torah and we refer to it repeatedly in our Rosh HaShana davening and
Slichot, to inspire us and to identify us.
Maftir is the final five p'sukim.
The haftara also tells of the Shunamite woman who prayed so fervently for a son. She had a son but he died. He is miraculously resuscitated by Elisha. This forms a counterpart to the birth of Yitzchak and the subsequent almost- losing him at the Akeida.
(According to a Midrash, the angel did not stop Avraham in time and Yitzchak died. There are prayers that refer to Yitzchak's ashes. This makes the parallel between the sedra and haftara all the stronger.)