The stories in this Torah portion raise a whole lot of questions, so that’s what you’re getting this week:
- While Abraham is recovering from his circumcision, he is visited by three “men” (angels), demonstrating the mitzvah of visiting the sick. Abraham and Sarah treat them well, demonstrating the mitzvah of providing hospitality. The angels confirm the previous message to Abraham that he and Sarah will have a son. Why is Abraham told twice, yet Sarah is not told at all but just overhears?
- The Lord decides to tell Abraham of the decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah as an object lesson (18:17-20). Why does Abraham question the decision and try to bargain to save them? Why doesn’t he at least mention that Lot lives there? Would Lot be counted among the hypothetical 10 righteous inhabitants who could save the cities?
- Have people who hold up the Bible as a model for family life actually read it? Like Abraham, Lot takes care of his two guests, protecting them from being raped. But why does he feel he has to offer his young daughters to the mob in their place? And why do those daughters later assume the whole world has been destroyed and they need to repopulate it by seducing their father? Twice? Or is this intended as a slap at the nations of Moab and Ammon (19:36-38)?
- Why does Abraham once more pass off Sarah as his sister, this time for Abimelech, king of Gerar? And if she is indeed his half-sister, why weren’t we told this explicitly when she is first introduced?
- Sarah gives birth to Isaac, the root of whose name means “laughter.” Is this benign, joyous laughter or ridicule? Are people laughing with or at Sarah? Is she embarrassed to have a child at 90? Imagine the joking: “Good thing the kid has a loud cry, for Sarah keeps forgetting where she put him!”
- The rabbis try to justify Sarah’s demand that Hagar and Ishmael be banished on the grounds of immoral behavior on the part of Ishmael. Might this just be Sarah getting back at Hagar, and it’s OK’d by the Lord because Ishmael will father a great nation anyway? Why does Hagar have a more direct relationship with the Lord than Sarah?
- The Akedah (binding, i.e., of Isaac for sacrifice) is explicitly a test of Abraham (22:1). Does he pass it? Why doesn’t he argue with the Lord, or at least ask why? Isaac is supposed to be the progenitor of a nation, so he can’t be sacrificed, at least not until he has a child. Has Abraham become so passive that he will do whatever the Lord says automatically? Is this maybe a game of chicken to see who cracks first? Why does an angel, not the Lord, tell Abraham not to harm Isaac? Why does the Lord apparently never speak to Abraham again? Why does the text in 22:19 indicate Abraham returned alone from Mt. Moriah?
Next week, we see what happens to Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac after the Akedah.
“Honey,” said this husband to his wife, “I invited a friend home for supper,”
“What? Are you crazy? The house is a mess, I didn`t go shopping, all the dishes are dirty, and I don`t feel like cooking a fancy meal!”
“I know all that,” replied the nonchalant husband.
“Then why on Earth did you invite a friend for supper?” said the infuriated wife.
“Because the poor fool`s thinking about getting married.”
Tourist Guide to Gomorrah (highly abridged)
A twin city to Sodom (famous for the invention of sodomy) and prone to being destroyed by angry deities with fire and brimstone, Gomorrah is a premier destination , The Gomorrah Convention and Visitors’ Bureau urge and invite you to sample our fine hospitality. Surround yourself with the wailing of demons, the cacophony of gnashing of teeth and the tears of the damned. Relax and enjoy.
Gomorrah has been lovingly restored to its historic grandeur after being both wiped off the map by angry gods and bypassed by a major freeway development, the Highway to Hell. Old Route 666, the Road to Ruin has been restored using thousands of shekels of government grants and paved with authentic brimstone of the era.
Various beasts of burden may be purchased for a pound of flesh from merchants in our historic public square.
Efficient and reliable taxi service is provided by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Hop on the chairlift to the top of Mount Sodom, our local mountain of salt.
Partake in our annual Gomorrahfest, an orgy of activity in which new perversions are invented nightly. Prizes awarded for originality and best effort.
Drop by the Sloppy Seconds Bakery for our weekly cream pie eating contest, a pleasurable dining experience where cheap tarts and forbidden fruits are plentiful. Get your licks on Route 666.
Some of the best shopping in the region at the lowest prices. Sell your children into slavery for pennies a day, trade in your husbands and wives for newer models, purchase the souls of the damned and bring them to your friends back home as souvenirs of downtown Gomorrah’s delightful market square. The options are truly endless and readily adapted to every budget and pocketbook.
If you absolutely must leave Sodom and Gomorrah, don’t look back. Lot’s wife already tried that. Failing that, the Salt City becomes your next destination.
Birth Control Pills
Mrs. Smith, an elderly woman, went into the doctor’s office. When the doctor asked why she was there, she replied, “I’d like to have some birth control pills.”
Quite surprised, the doctor thought for a minute and then said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, but you’re 75 years old. What possible use could you have for birth control pills?”
The woman responded, “They help me sleep better.”
The doctor thought some more and continued, “How in the world do birth control pills help you to sleep?
The woman said, “I put them in my granddaughter’s orange juice and I sleep better at night.”
Expecting a baby
For weeks a six-year-old lad kept telling his first-grade teacher about the baby brother or sister that was expected at his house.
One day the mother allowed the boy to feel the movements of the unborn child. The six-year old was obviously impressed, but made no comment. Furthermore, he stopped telling his teacher about the impending event.
The teacher finally sat the boy on her lap and said, “Tommy, whatever has become of that baby brother or sister you were expecting at home?”
Tommy burst into tears and confessed, “I think Mommy ate it!”