(From 2015) As so we continue the demonstrations of “family values” in Genesis. This week, in Parashat Vayeira, we have instances of duplicity, pimping, seduction, incest, attempted second degree murder, the expulsion of a woman and her son into the wilderness with little enough in the way of provisions that they almost die of thirst, and the utter destruction of two cities full of people – not by a flood, though, but by a raining of “sulfurous fire from the Lord out of heaven” (19:24). And Abraham just can’t seem to deal with having a wife and concubine (effectively, two wives) so he pretty much hides from them both.
OK, there are positive elements as well. Abraham, though recovering from his circumcision, eagerly demonstrates hospitality toward his angelic visitors. (Does anybody besides me think it’s weird that Abraham is directly told twice about the coming birth of a son, but Sarah just overhears an angel’s message?) Sarah gives birth to Isaac, whose name is related to “laughter,” perhaps Sarah’s disbelieving laugh at the prospect of having a baby at 90, let alone Abraham’s ability to father one; or perhaps embarrassment; or perhaps simply joy. Hagar and Ishmael survive in the wilderness, and Hagar is promised that Ishmael will be the father of 12 tribes. And Abraham doesn’t actually kill Isaac.
There are also incidents provoking mixed reactions. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is used to test Abraham’s compassion and willingness to stand up to the Lord and question. But they are still destroyed. Lot also demonstrates the principle of protecting guests, but by offering the mob his young daughters instead. Lot and his family, except for his wife who is turned into a pillar of salt, survive. But his daughters get him drunk, seduce him, and become pregnant. Abraham and Sarah together lie to Abimelech about Sarah’s identity (20:2, 5, 12, 13, 16), then excuses that by revealing she is actually his half-sister, so they weren’t really lying. But Abraham and Sarah are materially enriched by Abimelech upon leaving. And there’s that whole mess between Sarah and Hagar concerning Ishmael’s behavior with Isaac (This has been identified by some commentators as pedophilic incestuous sodomy, by others as merely shooting arrows at Isaac. Or Sarah may just have seen the two and wanted Ishmael out of the way to protect the much-younger Isaac’s rights). But, not only is there a good ending for Hagar and her son, but the Lord speaks with her in a way the Lord never speaks with Sarah.
The main event in the portion is, of course, Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac. Our modern reaction to Abraham’s following orders without protest is generally horror. Or, if we look at it allegorically, or cynically, we think, “So? Parents often sacrifice their children for their own (the parents’) ends.” However, as Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, MD (Associate Director for Bioethics of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS) writes in Ultimate Values and the Akedah Story, some Talmudic commentators felt Abraham didn’t go far enough, since he did not actually sacrifice Isaac (Babylonian Talmud Gittin 57b). And medieval commentators were familiar with many examples of men who had slaughtered their families and themselves during the Crusades. “For Jews in the rabbinic period and the Middle Ages, ‘their sufferings and sacrifices exceeded by far everything endured by the original Akedah’s father and son.’ (Shalom Spiegel, The Last Trial, 21) They were sympathetic mainly to Abraham’s being thwarted from demonstrating his devotion to God. “
[It’s that time again]
Top Ten World Series References in Parshat Vayera
by weekly bang staff Posted: 10-27-2007(Viewed 1263 times)
10.Avraham kicked dirt on The Ump, Hashem, arguing the call to destroy S’dome [Sodom]
9. Lot’s wife became the first pitcher’s mound
8. The Astrodome, Skydome can’t compare to S’dome
7. Boston winning another series?? That’d make even Sarah laugh
6. Avraham and Avimelech cut a deal and call the place “Beer Sheva”, instantly making getting a beer in the 7th inning a mitzvah
5. Sarah kicks Hagar and Yishmael out together – a double play
4. Youkilis* = You Kill is(aac)??!
3. Avraham took off his shoes on the holy ground, exposing the Red Sox
2. Avraham relieves starter Yishmael, bringing in Yitzchak for the save
1.Hashem brings in the goat** to close.
* Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis, first and third baseman
**actually, a ram
Quotes about Laughter
A day without laughter is a day wasted. Charlie Chaplin
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Erma Bombeck
The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. Mark Twain
Laughter is the closest distance between two people. Victor Borge
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. Kurt Vonnegut
It was at a party and the host was getting worried because there were too many people and not enough refreshments. She was sure that not all of these people had been invited but didn’t know how to tell which ones were the crashers. Then her husband got an idea….
He turned to the crowd of guests and said, “Will those who are from the brides side of the family stand up please?” About twenty people stood. Then he asked ” Will those who are from the groom side of the family stand up as well?” about twenty-five people stood up. Then he smiled and said
“Will all those who stood please leave, this is a birthday party”.