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Parashat Vayera - 5778

Dear friends,

In last week's parasha, Abraham was introduced to us as a faithful and devoted human being to G-d's commands. In this week's Parasha, we see some of his qualities. It begins with G-d appearing to Abraham. The Torah describes the place, the weather and all the actions taken by Abraham, which is kind of unusual because, normally, the Torah spares those details and goes right into the story. It begins by saying that Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent, at the hottest time of the day (probably to catch the breeze). Abraham sees three men, and he gets up and runs towards them. He begs them to come to his tent where they can sit and cool down under a tree, and that he would offer them some water to wash their feet, and some bread before they continue on their journey. The men agree and Abraham rushes to the tent and asks Sarah to bake some cakes. He also runs to the herd and takes a young calf and gives it to his servant who hastens to prepare it. He returns to the guests and places before them a huge meal and watches them as they eat.

Why does the Torah give all the details? The Midrash explains that the Torah wants to impress upon us the importance of hospitality. Here is our father Abraham at the age of 99, who is recovering from the circumcision he had recently, running towards three strangers on a very hot day, and doing everything by himself to welcome these people. When someone practices the Mitzvah of Hospitality, our sages say that it is a sure sign that that person is a descendant of Abraham. Why? Because of the compassion that person shows towards G-d's creatures.

The stories that follow in this Parasha, where Abraham prays to G-d to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, describe him as a caring individual who stands for what is right and is willing to argue with G-d, demanding justice and mercy. This is the main message of this Parasha: to be generous and compassionate.

We live at a time when these values are much needed as we see so many victims of natural disasters and wars who are in need of our help. Be a descendant of Abraham and help others.

Shabbat Shalom,