Torah Readers Reflections

Summary of Parashat Vayeira

And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day
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This week's Torah portion is full of stories that have defined who the Jewish people are and what they believe throughout their existence. Within the stories of this portion the fathers of many great nations that would live side-by-side with Israel in both peace and war are defined. 

There is a lot of content in this week's portion, any one of these topics would be suitable for an extensive dvar Torah. Here we are simply summarizing the events in this week's portion of Vayerah.

  • Abraham is visited by God - Rashi says that it was three days after being circumcised when the pain was at its worst.
  • Abraham sees strangers walking he leaves God to go and welcome the strangers
  • The strangers tell Abraham that in a year Sarah will give birth to a son, Sarah upon hearing this news laughs
  • The strangers depart for Sodom, God tells Abraham that Sodom and Gemmorah will be destroyed.
  • Abraham negotiates with the Lord to save the city of 10 righteous people can be found - God agrees
  • The angels visit Lot in Sodom and are attacked by a mob
  • Lot leaves Sodom with his wife and daughters but Lot's wife turns around to see the destruction of Sodom and is instantly turned to a pillar of salt.
  • Lot's daughters get him drunk and lay with him becoming pregnant and bearing two boys who would become the fathers of the nations of Moab and Ammon.
  • Abraham moves to Philistine territory where he pretends that Sarah is his sister. As a result the king, Avimelech takes Sarah to his harem.
  • God appears to Avimelech and tells him that he will be killed if he lies with Sarah. Avimelech is angry at Abraham for lying and almost making him lie with another man's woman.
  • Isaac is born when Abraham is 100 years old and Sarah is 90.
  • Hagar and Ishmael are sent away at Sarah's request.
  • God tests Abraham by commanding him to take Isaac and sacrifice him at a place that the Lord will show him
  • An angel stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and instead a ram is offered in his place.

The Akedah - Binding of Isaac

The portion ends with Abraham's greatest test ever - God commanded Abraham to take his only son, Isaac and offer him up as a sacrifice to the Lord at a place that I will show you. After a three day trek Abraham arrives at Mount Moriah which is where the Temple will be built many 100's of years in the future. Abraham leaves the man servant and takes Isaac up the mountain where he builds an altar. Isaac asks his father, "Father, we have the wood, we have the flint but we don't have the sacrifice". Abraham responds, "God will provide".

Abraham binds Isaac on the altar and holds his knife above the lad. Just as he is about to strike Isaac, an angel of the Lord intervenes and tells him to stop. Tradition states that the angel actually grabbed Abraham's arm and prevented him from striking Isaac. Abraham then sees a ram caught by his horns in the thicket. He offers the ram in place of Isaac. The site where this took place is then named Adonai-Yireh -The Lord God provides. 



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