Parashat Vayera // “He Appeared”

- מ ל ה -

Why should every one of us feel as though we are bound to an altar?

Abraham extends his arm, holding a knife close to his son’s throat

“and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only sonIsaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven” Genesis 22:7 – 12

  • When we hear the sound of the shofar, we accept the “binding” upon ourselves and agree to the divine test. According to the Talmud, the shofar must be bent and twistedbecause when a human meets their Creator and stands trial, they must approach submissively. To achieve this, we must overcome our bad traits and work to improve them. We can then present ourselves to God and receive His grace.
  • “The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Sound a blast before Me with a shofar made from a ram’s horn, so that I will remember for you the binding of Isaac, son of Abraham, and I will ascribe it to you as if you had bound yourselves before Me” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate of Rosh Hashanah 16a).

Abraham stands at the entrance of his tent and welcomes the angels

“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them… Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree” Genesis 18:1 – 4

  • Thanks to Abraham offering the angels water, his Israelite descendants do not suffer from thirst during their wanderings in the desert. Generosity is met by generosity. Abraham stands at the entrance of his tent and welcomes the angels. Similarly, a person must open windows and take the first step so that they too may receive grace.

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “He Appeared” 

  • When we open our hearts, we are able to face our inner darkness and recognize how our ego is holding us back. By exposing our evil inclinations, we release the hold they have over us – which enables us to open up and be filled with light.
  • Wisdom and treasures await us. However, in order to contain them, we require a vessel that can hold the light of chesed (lovingkindness, generosity, grace). Through acts of goodness and sharing, we can enlarge the vessel and allow it to be filled.
  • When we give and love unconditionally, we provide for the needs of others. It is in this same way that we ourselves receive blessings – just like Abraham, who disregards his own physical pain and is eager to host strangers, who turn out to be angels. Abraham’s generosity is later returned severalfold.
  • We must all see ourselves as bound to the altar, tested by our Creator. Only through humility can we hope to receive the blessings of chesed and ascend to the next spiritual level.
  • Regardless of how learned or important we are, if we do not focus on converting our negative traits and behaviors to positive ones, we will be unable to ascend.
  • Positivity and goodness are the true hallmarks of a righteous person.

Our most beautiful traits are surely noticed by others; modesty means not needing to show them off.