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BĒH

 

May Hashem grant peace and security to the City of Yerushalayim, the land of Israel, and the Jewish people throughout the world.

VAYEIRA - PURELY FOR HASHEM
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

 

---

 

Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayeira. In the beginning of the portion, the Torah describes Avrahamís phenomenal hospitality. Although he was recovering from his circumcision, Avraham sat in the sweltering heat seeking guests in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of bringing guests to his home. When he saw guests, he ran to take care of them. Having guests can be a pleasure. Avraham demonstrated that he fulfilled the Mitzvah even when it caused pain.


Thereafter, the Torah describes his great compassion. When Hashem informed Avraham that He intended to destroy Sodom and the surrounding cities, Avraham begged Hashem to have mercy. The people of Sodom were wicked and there lifestyle was the antithesis of Avrahamís belief. Rather than rejoicing in their downfall, he sought to help other human beings in their time of need. This is the true meaning of kindness and compassion. It is echoed later by a commandment in the Torah. When one sees the donkey of someone he hates faltering under its burden, one must help him. Jewish law adds that one must help him before a friend in the same situation. True Chesed, true compassion, is pure and unprejudiced.


Thereafter, the Torah describes the birth of Yitzchak and his circumcision. Rashi comments that the birth of Yitzchak was preceded by Avraham praying for someone else in a similar predicament. This teaches us that praying sincerely for others elicits G-dís blessings for our needs.


The conclusion of the portion is the Akeidah, the binding of Yitzchak. Hashem commanded Avraham to bring Yitzchak to the future sight of the Temple in Yerushalayim as an offering. After arriving and making all necessary preparations, just before he slaughtered Yitzchak, Hashem commanded Avraham not to harm him. A ram miraculously appeared and Avraham offered it in Yitzchakís stead.


The Midrash teaches that the two horns of the ram were made into Shofars that were designated for two momentous occasions. The left horn was sounded when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, and the right horn, which is the larger horn, will herald Moshiachís coming. The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the Shofar of Moshiach will awaken us to return to the Torah and that the renaissance of Judaism in our times is because the Shofar has already begun to blow. Fortunate are those who heed Moshiachís Shofar before his coming. This Midrash has a powerful lesson for all of us. The Akeidah directs us how to fulfill the Torah and how to bring Moshiach.


When Hashem commanded Avraham to offer his son, He said please. This is a unique expression on Hashemís part. Hashem generally commands. Rashi explains that Hashem asked him to withstand this test, so as not to invalidate all that he had done until now. Avraham had risked his life for Hashem, fought paganism and depravity, dedicated his resources to charity, risked his life to free captives and spread the message of truth to the world. What was so unique about the Akeidah that validated Avrahamís devotion and service until now?


Our service of Hashem can be an expression of our nature or an expression of submission to His will. Avraham was the epitome of love and kindness. His tent was open in all directions in order to welcome guests. His spreading of the knowledge of Hashem was sharing at the highest level. He even begged Hashem to have mercy on the wicked people of Sodom. For him to sacrifice his son, an act of heartlessness, was the antithesis of his nature. By the Akeidah he demonstrated that all that he had done until now was not simply an expression of his nature, but rather a result of total devotion to Hashem.


All too often, we have a tendency to pick and chose Mitzvot. Those that we like we follow and those we feel uncomfortable with we skip or fulfill in a lackluster manner. The Akeidah teaches us that performing one Mitzvah solely for the sake of Hashem we validate to all good acts that we have done until now and pave the path for Moshiach. The Torah adds that Avraham rose early to perform the Akeidah. This was an expression of enthusiasm. This teaches us that even when we perform Mitzvot we donít understand or appreciate, we must do them with enthusiasm and eagerness. The Tanya explains that Avrahamís eagerness to fulfill the Akeidah is a merit that brings blessings and protection to the Jewish people through all generations.


The Rebbe has stressed that acts of good and kindness will bring Moshiach. Let us all strive to do what w can to help others and we will hear the call of the Great Shofar with the coming of Moshiach!


Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in merit of Geraz Grace Bat Sarah Cayre of blessed and cherished memory. May Hashem grant her perfect rest in Gan Eden and may her acts of true Chesed be an inspiration to her family and her community that they will emulate and thereby continue her legacy.


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