Parashat Vayerah begins with the title word Vayerah or
He appeared, as it is written-
And the L-rd appeared unto him by the plains of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day(18:1).
Abraham lifts his eyes and sees three men opposite him and runs towards them and bows to the ground. Abraham invites the men to rest and rushes to his tent, telling Sarah,
Hurry! Three measures of meal, fine flour! Knead and make cakes!(18:6)
Abraham then prepares a calf, tender and good, and places the calf, cream and milk before the men. The men ask Abraham where his wife Sarah is and he responds that she is in the tent.
God says, I will surely return to you at this time next year, and behold Sarah your wife will have a son (18:10).
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, behind him. And Sarah laughed at herself, saying:
After I have withered shall I again have delicate skin? And my husband is old!(18:12)
G-d asks Abraham, Why is it that Sarah laughed, saying: Shall I in truth bear a child, though I have aged? Is anything beyond Hashem? At the appointed time I will return to you at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son. (18:13-18:14).
Sarah denies that she laughed because she was frightened, But Abraham responded, No, you laughed indeed. (18:15)
Hashem then tells Abraham that Because of the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has become great, and because their sin has been very grave, I will descend and see: if they act in accordance with its outcry which has come to me- then destruction! And if not, I will know. (18:20-18:21).
The men leave towards Sodom but Abraham came forward and petitions G-d, saying,
Will you also stamp out the righteous along with the wicked? What if there should be fifty righteous people in the midst of the city? ...It would be sacrilege to You! Shall the judge of the earth not do justice?(18:23-18:25).
And Hashem said,
If I find in Sodom fifty righteous people in the midst of the city, then I would spare the entire place on their account(18:26)
What if fifty righteous people should lack five?(18:28)
Hashem responded, I will not destroy if I find their forty five (18:28)
Abraham continued, What if forty would be found there (18:29)
Hashem responded, I will not act on account of the forty (18:29)
Abraham continued, What if thirty would be found there? (18:30)
Hashem responded, I will not act if I find there thirty (18:30)
Abraham continued, What if twenty would be found there? (18:31)
Hashem responded, I will not destroy on the account of the twenty (18:31)
Abraham continued further,
Let not my L-rd be annoyed and I will speak but this once: What if ten would be found there?(18:32)
Hashem then responds,
I will not destroy on account of the ten(18:32)
Two angels come to Sodom in the evening when Lot was sitting at the gates of the city. Upon seeing them, Lot stands up and bows down. He requests from the angels to spend the night, wash their feet, wake up early and leave. The angels responded that they would rather sleep in the town square but Lot urges them not to and they come with Lot to his house, where he makes a feast for them. However, before they lay down, the Sodomite townspeople surround the house, from young to old, from every quarter. They call to Lot, saying-
Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them(19:5).
Lot exits the house, shutting the door behind him and responds,
I beg you, my brothers, do not act wickedly. See now, I have two daughters who have never known a man. I shall bring them out to you and do to them as you please. But to these men do nothing inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof(19:7-19:8).
The men of Sodom grab Lot and shut the door. The angels then blind the men so that they cannot find the door and the angels order Lot to gather his family and leave the city,
for we will destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before G-d and G-d has sent us to destroy it(19:13).
Lot and his family flee to a nearby city named Zoar and Then
G-d caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from G-d out of heaven and He overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground(19:24-19:25).
Lots wife turns around to witness the overthrow of the cities and she is turned into a pillar of salt as a result.
Lot then leaves Zoar and dwells in a mountain cave with his two daughters. Believing that they were the only ones left alive in the world, the two girls make their father drink wine and lie with him. They each conceive a child from their father, the older daughter gives birth to a son, Moab, who becomes the father of the Moabite nation and the younger daughter gives birth to a son, Ben-ammi, who becomes the father of the Ammonite nation.
Abraham then moves to Gerar and when Abraham tells Abimelech, the king of Gerar, that Sarah is his sister, the king takes Sarah. G-d appears to Abimelech in a dream and tells him to return Sarah to Abraham, for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and you shall live and if you dont return her, know that you shall surely die, you, and all that are yours (20:7). Abimelech takes sheep and oxen, and men-servants and women-servants, and gives them to Abraham, and returns Sarah to him. Abimelech invites Abraham to live anywhere on his land, and Abraham prays to G-d and G-d heals Abimelech, his wife and his maid-servants and they bear children for G-d had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abrahams wife (20:18).
G-d then remembers his promise to Sarah and she bears a son, Isaac. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah notes,
God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me, adding, Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age(21:6-21:7).
As Isaac grows up, Sarah notices Yishamel, Hagar and Abrahams son, מְצַחֵק or mocking. She orders Abraham to drive Hagar and her son from their house, which distresses Abraham. G-d tells Abraham to listen to Sarah and assures him that through Isaac will come his descendants and also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is your seed (21:13).
Abraham sends Hagar and Yishmael away the next morning with bread and a bottle of water and the two stray into the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water runs out, Hagar sends Yishmael to sit underneath a shrub and sits at a distance away from him, for she said:
Let me not look upon the death of the child(21:16). She begins to cry and G-d opens her eyes and she sees a well of water from which she gives Yishmael to drink. G-d promises Hagar that he will make her son into a great nation (21:18).
And G-d was with Yishmael, and he grew; and he dwelt in the wilderness and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took him a wife out the land of Egypt (21:20-21:21).
Abimelech and Pichol, the captain of his military, observing that G-d is with Abraham with everything that he does, approach Abraham and ask him to swear that there will always be peace between them and their descendants. Abraham gives Abimelech seven ewe-lambs as a sign of their treaty, which they pronounce at the place called Beer-Sheba because there they swore both of them (21:31).
The last chapter of this weeks Parsha comprises one of the most famous stories and tests of Abraham, that of the sacrifice of Isaac, as it is written,
And it came to pass after these things, that G-d did test Abraham, and He said to him Abraham and Abraham said: Here I am(22:1).
G-d orders Abraham to take Isaac into the land of Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice. The next morning, Abraham, two of Abrahams young men and Isaac set out for Moriah. On the third day of their travels, Abraham sees the place from afar and orders the two young men to stay with the donkey until Abraham returns. Abraham takes the wood of the burnt-offering, the fire and the knife necessary for the sacrifice, prompting Isaac to ask,
Here is the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?(22:7). When the two arrive at the place that G-d had designated, Abraham builds an alter and lays the wood down, and binds Isaac and lays him down on the altar, on the wood.
When Abraham stretches forth his hand and takes the knife to sacrifice Isaac, an angel of the
L-rd cries out to him, saying
Abraham, Abrahamto which Abraham answers,
Here I am(22:11). G-d tells Abraham not to harm the child because it is now clear how much of a G-d fearing man Abraham is, that he was willing to sacrifice his own son because G-d commanded him to do so. Abraham lifts his eyes and sees a ram caught by its horns in a nearby thicket and Abraham sacrifices the ram to G-d in place of his son.
G-d promises Abraham that because he did not withhold even his son from Him, G-d will bless Abraham and multiply the number of his descendants as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies (22:17).
(והוא יושב פתח האהל.. (יח:א
And he was sitting at the door of the tent...
Rashi comments that Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent in order to see if there were any people around that he might invite into his house to fulfill the mitzvah of הכנסת אורחים or welcoming guests.
רבי שלום מבלז adds that Abraham was sitting at the entrance of גן עדן (The Garden of Eden), looking for people who had made תשובה (repented) in order to let them inside the Garden.
Another explanation is that Abraham was spreading his love for Torah, praising G-d and His ways with those that passed by his tent .
(ויקח את שני נעריו אתו...(כב:ג
And he took his two young men with him...(22:3)
Rashi explains that these two young men were his son, Yishmael, and his servant, Eliezer.
The בעל שם טוב (Baal Shem Tov) reads the phrase שני נעריו not as two young men but as שנות נעוריו or the years of his youth. For when Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, he did so with the passion and courage of his youth.
Lessons to learn from this weeks parsha:
1. Connecting with Hashem: Avraham's ability to sacrifice his own worldly pleasure and comfort for Hashem in order to have a relationship with Hashem? Hashems not asking you to sacrifice your son/daughter/mother etc. just turn off your worldly distractions and connect with Hashem whether its during Shabbat, davening, one hour a day where you can sit and meditate as to what your true purpose is in this world etc.
2. Bikkur Cholim: visiting the sick- Hashem went to visit Avraham Avinu on the third day of his brit mila.
3. Greeting guests: Avraham Avinu went outside his tent to greet guests regardless of how much pain he was in all he wanted to do was to teach people about Hashem.
Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant manner(Ethics of the Fathers 1:15).