Thursday, November 6, 2014

B’resheit / Genesis 18:1 – 22:24 / Vayera (He appeared)

Vayera (He appeared)
B’resheit / Genesis 18:1 – 22:24
parashah #2 (18:15 – 32)

            I am always intrigued with the decision that had been made as to where to separate the first two parashot of this week’s reading.  Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that the first verse of parashah #2 would be better placed as the ending to the previous parashah?
            Perhaps, and this is the best explanation I have been able to come up with, perhaps this verse is located here as a means of offsetting Sarah’s disbelief of HaShem’s promise of a son with Abraham’s certainty that the Almighty was about to bring judgement down upon S’dom and G’morrah.
            The message to Sarah was one of life; the upcoming birth of a son, even though she was 89 years old at the time of the message’s delivery.  Ten years older than Sarah, Abraham, who rejoiced at the most recent promise of a son, took very seriously the word that had been spoken to him by the Lord, a word not of life but of judgement.
            How are we to describe Abraham?  Why does the Lord reveal His purposes to Abraham?  Yes, we are told Abraham will become great and strong nation, blessings will flow from him to all the nations and that he is obedient.  Let’s peruse some other words given regarding Father Abraham.

            ‘Amos 3:7 records, “Adonai, God, does nothing without
            revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.”
            B’resheit 20:7 reads as follows, “Therefore return the man’s
            wife to him now.  He is a prophet, and he will pray for you,
            so that you will live.  But if you don’t return her, know that
            you will certainly die – you and all who belong to you.”
            Proverbs 3:32b reveals, “…but He shares His secret counsel
            with the upright.”

            Tehillim (Psalms) 25:14 tells the reader, “Adonai relates
            intimately with those who fear Him; He makes them know
            His covenant.”

            Jumping ahead to verse 20 through 25 beyond we notice that Abraham is very much aware of Whom the Lord is, He is both righteous and just.  It is to these two traits that Abraham appeals.  Will the just be condemned with the unjust?

            Abraham has a vested interest in the people of this area, and I am not just alluding to his nephew Lot.  Some twenty-four years earlier Abraham rescued many of these people from four powerful “kings” of the North.  It was at the risk of his life that he went to their rescue.  He was able, with HaShem’s help of course, to rescue the people of this five-city metropolitan are of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Again, it is potentially at the risk of his life that he here challenges the decision that has been made in High Places.

            Another question that arises is why does he speak of 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, and 10 righteous people?  What significance could that have?  I would propose that with five cities, Abraham is bargaining for the salvation of each city.  What if there is a minyan of believers in each city, would the cities be destroyed?  What if only four cities have minyans, three, two, or only one?  Without any minyans, it seems to me that Abraham had no room to bargain, at least according to my reasoning.

            As an aside regarding the number 45 (which I am sure you the reader are itching to bring up), I feel that since the number 5 is related to grace, perhaps Abraham was seeking grace for the one city that may be lacking a full minyan.

            I have one more thought I would like to share.  More wondering has overcome me as I think of the number fifty.  Last week’s parashah, Lekh L’kha has a gematria of 50.  “Get yourself out” is its meaning.  Of course, that is what Lot and his family were required to do, but isn’t that also what Abraham was seeking for the denizens of the five cities?  Shouldn’t this also be our desire as we go forth making disciples of all the nations?

May His Word eternally bless us.

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