November 14, 2019


11.15.2019 Weekly Torah Portion

Vayeira 5780

This week’s Parashah is Vayeira. This translates to ‘appeared’. God appears to Abraham in this Parashah many times. At the beginning, God (Adonai) appears as a visitor to the recovering Abraham (from his circumcision). This is where we get the idea of visiting the sick, Bikur Cholim. We visit people who are sick to help relieve the stress of illness, let people know that they matter and they are loved. Abraham changes when God ‘appears’ to him, just as people who are sick change when they are visited. When has God ‘appeared’ to you? How has this changed you? Have you been changed when someone ‘appears’ to you when you are ill; emotionally, physically and spiritually?

The next time God (Adonai) ‘appears’ to Abraham is when God decides not to hide from Abraham what God is thinking about doing to Sodom and Gemorrah. This ‘appearance’ by God to Abraham causes the famous “arguing” with God scene. This teaches us that arguing is a path to learning and Abraham argues with God for God’s sake and for the sake of another group of people, not for himself. This way of being happens only when we appear in all of our authenticity and transparency. Abraham didn’t hide himself nor did God hide God’s self. We can’t argue for the ‘sake of heaven’ if we are not real, transparent and authentic. We always have a choice, argue to win or argue to learn. The Jewish path, as I understand this story, is to learn. When do you argue to learn? How do you show up as your authentic self? Are you noticing when God and other people appear to you?

God (Elohim) next appears to Abimelech when Abraham hides who Sarah truly is. God lets Abimelech know the truth of who Sarah is and then Abimelech gives her back to Abraham. This third ‘appearance’ by God happens when someone is hiding. Here again, transparency and authenticity are what God desires. God’s mercy is so great, that God doesn’t get mad at Abraham or Sarah for living in fear, rather he saves them from harm. When do hid from fear? How often do you let fear prevent you from doing the next right thing? When you see truth, do you respond in kind or do you keep hiding?

In the next instance of God (HaElohim) appearing is when Abraham is tested by being told to sacrifice Isaac. When God (Adonai) talks to Abraham about Sodom and Gemorrah, Abraham argues. Here, when God (HaElohim) tests him, Abraham is silent. I believe that Abraham failed the test! The different spelling of God in this case is very distant – THE GOD- rather than Adonai, a more personal and immanent spelling. I find this so interesting and disturbing. I know that when I feel distant from God and when I relate to THE GOD, I am not as engaged in life and in the relationship. I know when I related to other people’s role and not their soul, I am more distant and less engaged with them. When are you distant and impersonal in your relationship with God? When and why do you relate to other people from a role to role scenario? What will it take for you to relate from your soul no matter what your role is in your living?

We appear to others in these ways as well as appear to God in these different ways. It is time for us to emulate Abraham in appearing to with transparency and authenticity. It is time for us to appear to others as God appeared to Abraham in the beginning of this Parashah, authentically and with compassion. We can change our way of being to be more human by appearing as a soul no matter what our role is. Will you do this more this year? I pray we all do.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mark