Weekly Portion

Parshat Vayeira (Genesis 18-22)

Avraham, on the third day after his brit mila, sits outside his tent looking for guests to extend his hospitality. While talking with the Almighty, he sees three visitors (actually angels of the Almighty). Avraham interrupts his conversation with the Almighty to invite them to a meal. One angel informs him that in a year’s time, Sarah, his wife, will give birth to a son, Yitzhak (Isaac).

God tells Avraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its absolute evil (the city is the source of the word sodomy). Avraham argues with God to spare Sodom if there can be found ten righteous people in Sodom. Avraham loses for the lack of a quorum. Lot (Avraham’s nephew) escapes the destruction with his two daughters.

Other incidents: Avimelech, King of the Philistines, wants to marry Sarah (Avraham’s wife), the birth of Yitzhak, the eviction of Hagar (Avraham’s concubine) and Ishmael. Avimelech and Avraham make a treaty at Beersheva. Avraham is commanded to take up his son, Isaac, as an offering “on one of the mountains” (Akeidat Yitzhak). Lastly, the announcement of the birth of Rivka (Rebecca), the future wife of Yitzhak.

Do you want to know the reward for listening to the command of the Almighty? This is what the Almighty told Avraham: “… I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice.”

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Avraham invites three visitors to stay for a meal with the words, “I will fetch a morsel of bread that you may sustain yourselves, then go on.” Yet, Avraham does not give them just a crust of bread, he serves them a lavish multi-course feast. Why does Avraham use such a humble invitation? Wouldn’t a more descriptive invitation have been more enticing?

In the Talmud (Bava Metzia 87a) the Sages derive from here the principle that the righteous say little and do much. The wicked, however, say much and do little (as we see next week with Efron’s false assurances to Avraham when Avraham wants to bury his wife, Sarah).

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, of the Mir Yeshiva, comments that talking about what you plan to do is negative. It is superfluous and often counterproductive. Talking is easier than doing. It creates expectations. And then, even with the greatest of intent, things happen which prevent doing. There is pleasure in talking about the good you intend to do, but it is a cheap way of getting honor and approval. Talking changes the focus from doing good for its own sake to doing good for the sake of approval — and there are those who make grandiose promises and then they forget …. causing great heartache and pain.