Shabbat Commentary

26/27 Oct : Vayera: Shabbat comes in 5:30 pm,  ends  6:31 pm

In Parashat Vayera,  God decides to tell Avraham about the problem of Sedom and neighbouring Amorah (Sodom and Gomorrah), and about the decision to destroy them: “Shall I hide from Avraham what I am about to do, since Avraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him?  For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his household after him so that they will follow the way of Hashem, to do the just and the right, in order that Hashemi may bring about what has been spoken to him”(Gen. 18:17-19).

It is unusual to get such a narrative of God’s rationale for doing anything, especially at such length and detail. Clearly, more is at stake than a simple notification that a couple of cities are about to be destroyed. God is seeking a consultation with the human Avraham.

While Avraham obeys God without question when it comes to the command to sacrifice his son, here, he argues back immediately. “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty…. Far be it from You ! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen. 18:25).

It seems that Avraham and God learned a lot about each other in this argument over Sedom and Amorah. Avraham learns that you can fight with God.  Apparently, he also learns that he doesn’t necessarily need to do so. There aren’t enough righteous people to make a difference, and while he never even mentions his own family there, they are saved anyway. God had all of that covered; God can be trusted.

So perhaps when Avraham tells his son, “God will see to the sheep for the offering, my son,” (Gen. 22:8) he has utter faith that God will do just that, even up to the last moment as he brings out the knife to slaughter his son. Perhaps it was that demonstration of faith that caused God to trust Avraham in return.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman




October 25, 2018