Saturday 12th November 2022 18th Cheshvan 5783
PARASHAT VAYERA Herschel
Genesis 18:1 - 22:24; 2 Kings 4:1-37; Luke 17:28-37
Our parasha this Shabbat is called Vayera
and HaShem appeared to Abraham on the 3rd day after his circumcision, which apparently, is the most painful day of the entire process:
1 Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he
was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.
2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by
him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor
in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.
3 Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.
4 And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After
that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant." They
said, "Do as you have said."
There are a few insights that we gain just from the first few verses:
· the Terebinth Tree at Mamre
Terebinth trees (Hebrew ‘Alon’) were an oak grove occupied by tent dwelling Amorites. Mamre means Amorite which means bitter, a rebel. So, we see Abraham living in the region occupied by the Amorites who are likened to rebels. He was circumcised and circumcised all the men in his camp living in the midst of a rebellious and idolatrous people. This informs us that we can live righteously in the midst of a fallen and often, perverted reality.
· Abraham sat at the entrance to his tent so that he could extend hospitality to any passing stranger which was the custom of that time.
We see that although in great pain, Abraham rushed out to show hospitality to three strangers. The chazal go as far to suggest that Abraham's kindness extended to these 3 visitors shows that "hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence" (Shevuos 35b; Shabbos 127a). The Talmud says “the fruit of acts of kindness belong to you in this lifetime; the stock remains for the olam habah – the world to come’. This follows the Hebraic tradition that the "servant of the King" is to be treated as if he were the King himself.
· Abraham lifted his eyes and saw
This phrase occurs in the life of the Patriarchs. Firstly, let’s understand what is been taught here. The Hebrew in Genesis 18:2 reads àøéå åéðéò àùéå – ‘vayisah einav vayirah’ – ‘he lifted his eyes and he saw’.
‘vayisah - And he lifted – is not limited only to physicality; it has a spiritual component. Vayisah can also infer ‘to exalt oneself i.e. to uplift oneself spiritually’.
vayirah – and he saw – this can mean ‘to have a vision, to discern, to perceive’. This infers peering through the eyes of the Spirit.
When Avraham faced the final and tenth trial of his faith, we read
And Avraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Yitzchak his son, and broke the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Avraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place from afar... And they came to the place which God had told him; and Avraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Yitzchak his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood... And Avraham called the name of that place Adonai-Yireh; as it is said to this day, 'In the Mount of God He shall be seen'. (Bereishit 22:3,4,9,14)
In Hebrew, ‘the place’ is ‘hamakom’. It is not any place; it is THE Place.
And Yaakov went out from Beersheva, and went toward Haran. And he arrived at the place, and remained there all night, because the sun had set; and he took of the stones of the place, and put them beneath his head, and lay down in that place. (Bereishit 28:10-11)
And he called the name of that place Beit-El; but the name of the city was Luz at first. (Bereishit 28:19)
THE PLACE is Mount Moriah, THE place of the future Temple; the place where God said “I will put My Name there”. THE PLACE - HAMAKOM - is the physical manifestation of God’s presence on earth. But, in order to discern HaMakom, we have to undergo the circumcision of the heart.
· The circumcision of the heart
The first use of the number eight is found in Bereshit 17:12.
And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which [is] not of thy seed.
A Jewish baby boy is circumcised on the 8th as the introduction into the Abrahamic covenant. In Gamatria, the number ‘8’ is symbolic of New Beginnings. 7 + 1. Seven is often referred to as HaShem’s perfect or complete number. It is also symbolic of the natural order of things. The number 8 in the Bible represents new beginning meaning a new order or creation, and man's true 'born again' event when he is resurrected from the dead into eternal life.
In Scripture, there are many examples where God uses the number 8 to represent new beginnings.
The number eight always alludes to a departure from the “natural” realm and entry into the realm of the divine. This uniquely Jewish concept of man having the ability to transcend his nature is represented by the number eight.The number eight in the Bible means Resurrection and Regeneration.
And, Yeshua is the resurrection and the life, He is the new beginning, the regeneration. Now, that we know and confess Him, our journey to sanctification commences and what we discover is narrow is the gate and narrow is the way. But Yeshua is the Only way and so we embrace the demands of this narrow way simply because He is the Way of Life.