This week we study Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24).
* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “Abraham is rewarded for his willingness to sacrifice his son and he is rewarded for not actually going through with the sacrifice. The common denominator in Abraham’s seemingly contradictory behavior is his constant willingness to accept God’s will and behave accordingly. This attitude has become the basis for all halachic decisions and Jewish behavior over the ages – the continued attempt to understand and follow through upon God’s will.”
* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: Sarah was initially bemused by the words of the angel. She evidently thought that it was just a throw-away promise of a wandering Bedouin Arab and reacted accordingly. At the outset she did not hear the voice of God in the words of the angel that addressed her. Therefore she did not take those words seriously. God reprimands her for this attitude and asks “Why did Sarah not take these words seriously?”
Avraham who heard the tidings from God directly realized that the message was true and serious. Sarah had to believe what she thought was a human wish and therefore discounted it. But God demanded from her, as He does from each of us, that we pay proper attention to what other humans say to us. Perhaps in their statements and words we can realize that God Himself, so to speak, is talking to us.
God has many messengers and many ways of reaching us individually but we must be attuned to hear the messages that emanate from Heaven. They should never be allowed to fall on deaf or inattentive ears and minds.
* Rabbi Wein writes: A second lesson inherent in the story of Sodom is that even the most righteous person in the world our father Avraham cannot save other people simply with his blessings and entreaties. People, communities, nations, have to save themselves. Avraham can guide and teach, serve as an example and role model, influence and lead, but in the last analysis only Sodom can save Sodom, only Lot can save Lot.
* Rabbi Wein writes: “The outstanding feature of today’s Jewish world is the contrast between the resiliency and confidence of Orthodoxy and the angst and depression that characterizes the non-Orthodox Jewish world.”