Good Shabbos to everyone!

I dedicate these divrei Torah as a zechus for a blessed and speedy Refuah Sheleima for Rochel bas Daniella Dshoar.


In the closing of last week’s parsha of Lech Lecha, Hashem commands Avraham to circumcise himself, and all the males of his household, uniting with Him in a covenant of devotion, that is treasured and resolutely upheld to this day amongst Am Yisrael.  Along with the mitzvah bestowed upon the first Jew, G-d also delivered wondrous news– Avraham and Sarah would finally be blessed with a child, whom they would name Yitzchak.

Flip to the opening of this week’s sidra of Vayeira…  and Avraham is resting at the opening of his tent, on the third day after his milah, when the pain has reached its peak.  Furthermore, it was an unusually scorching day.  Hashem had caused the weather to take this turn, so that no traveler would be out, and arrive at Avraham’s tent, disturbing him in his state of discomfort.  We may ask why Avraham was sitting outside to begin with.  Rashi explains this pattern of behavior, teaching that Avraham was indeed searching the path for wayfarers who he could beckon into his home and serve.  Avraham’s inborn soul of Chesed, lovingkindness, coursed through him with such mastery, that even in spite of his pain from the milah, he was unstoppable.  He was ready to host others, nurture them, and ultimately sanctify Hashem’s name with them, to the point that he personally sought them out!

Hashem witnessed Avraham’s anguish at the lack of one of his greatest joys– guests, that came his way– so He sent him a surprise.  Hashem had charged a trio of malachim (angels) with three separate missions:  One (Michoel) to give the besoros tovos, good tidings, that Sarah would give birth to a child in the next year; one (Gavriel) to overturn the degenerate Sedom and its sister cities; and one (Refael) to heal Avraham (and later, to save Lot– healing and saving are considered to be two actions of the same category).  To please and comfort Avraham, Hashem had them descend and approach him after assuming the appearances of human beings, travelers, and potential guests.

“Vayisa aiynav vayar v’hinei sh’losha anashim nitzavim alav; vayar vayaratz likrasam mipesach ha’ohel vayishtachu artzam. – Hi lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing near him; He saw (them), and ran from the door of the tent to greet them, and he bowed down to the earth.”  {Bereishis 18:2}

Rashi questions the double use of “vayar – he saw”.  As is his custom, the Meforash gives us an answer:

The first use of “vayar” means that he caught sight of his guests, whereas the second reference implies ‘understanding’.  How so?  He first saw them standing nearby, but they were motionless.  He perceived that they were avoiding inconveniencing him, so he himself rose up with alacrity, and hastened towards them to invite them in.

An alternative explanation given by Rashi is drawn from the Gemara, in Bava Metzia.  The first segment, where it details “nitzavim alav – were standing near him” indicates their close proximity.  Curiously, this appears to be contradicted when the verse continues “vayaratz likrasam mipesach ha’ohel – he ran from the opening of the tent to greet them.”  You needn’t run to a person who is standing near you, just as it’s unnecessary to shout while speaking if your listener is right there.  When the malachim observed Avraham adjusting his bandages, tending to the after-effects of his milah, they stepped back, literally, and distanced themselves from him.  He thereupon cut to the chase, pursuing his guests ‘like there was no tomorrow’, and welcomed them with a most gracious reception.  No personal pains or efforts would deter our forefather from accomplishing his cherished mitzvah!


The following are a few thoughts of my own, as to how we can possibly apply this story, and Avraham Avinu’s stellar example, to our own lives.

We are bound in love and deep dedication to Hashem and His gift to us– our Holy Torah.  Still, mitzvos are sometimes difficult to accomplish.  It is even more of a struggle, when we feel like Hashem isn’t assisting us in our efforts.  Hashem is so hidden to us in a time like that!

Picture a mother or father, teacher or Rabbi, who is quietly listening to their child or student, as they gush on with a problem or concern they’ve been having.  They allow the child to unburden their shoulders, hearts and minds.  As the younger one calms down, there is a moment of thoughtful silence, which is punctuated by the guiding adult with one of the following lines:  “How do you think we should proceed with this?”  “In which direction do you want to turn; how do you want to respond to this?”  “What do you think we can do to make this better?”  Yes, they are challenging the child, but in a most profound, beautiful, and helpful way.  They do not, right off the cuff, restrict the young one to their definition of the situation, imposing upon them how the adult believes they have to change things; rather, they open and stimulate the youth’s mind to accept, rationalize, feel, and process the matter, and future course of action, thoughtfully and wisely.  They encourage the child to open their ears to what their own soul advises.  (This is reminiscent of  Hashem telling Avraham “Sh’ma b’kolah – Listen to her (Sarah’s) voice”, her inner voice of nevua (prophecy), which was of a higher level than Avraham’s.)  They nurture them to grow, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally through the rough patches of the event, and the youth becomes their own strong mentch (person), who can make their own choices, think and reflect with their own mind, and allow themselves to be directed by their inner voice.

Hashem, Avinu Shebashamayim (our Father in Heaven) may perhaps test us in the same way!  We see this with our above story from the parsha:  Avraham longed for guests, to perform the coveted mitzvah of hachnasas orchim.  Hashem rewarded him with this opportunity, sending him the angels in human guise, to care for and make his mark on.  We know Avraham was going through a difficult situation of his own– that very day was one of the most (physically) painful days of his entire life!  And you know what?  Hashem ‘distanced Himself’ (in a way, through His messengers), not pressing down upon Avraham with the obligation of welcoming guests (although it was a passion of his).  He moved the mitzvah further off, so to speak, and this ultimately compelled Avraham to make greater efforts to accomplish it.  It was Avraham’s choice to rise up from the pain, making a conscious choice to pursue the opportunity, ran towards it with all his strength, and became even greater through his actions.  He passed on this strength to us, through ‘spiritual DNA’, to always be able to stretch ourselves, to think, to love, to struggle, to act, no matter how difficult.

Yes, mitzvos can sometimes be a challenge for us.  But we have the strengths, the mind, heart and soul, to combat any deterrent, and to forge on with the holy path.  Hashem is just giving us some room to run… and grow.


The Messenger Bird