I hope you will join us for services this Shabbat as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Reilly David. Mazal Tov to Reilly and to his entire family!
Our weekly Torah portion, Vayera, is replete with well known Biblical stories. It includes the story of Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality to the angels who predicted the birth of Isaac. It goes on to relate the story of Sodom and Gemorrah. With a nod to Abraham’s political and military feats, as well as to the complexities of Abraham’s family dynamics, our weekly Torah portion tells of the peace pact Abraham managed to cement with Avimelech, the ruler of Gerar. And, finally, our parsha concludes with the Akeda story – the story of the binding of Isaac.
As we study these stories, we realize that there is much more than story-telling in our parsha. These stories contain treasured teachings of Torah for all generations.
As we re-read these stories and recount them each year, we are invited to create and to re-create for ourselves, a platform for discussing moral dilemmas. And, we have the opportunity to ask questions. Naturally, over time, as our experience continues to inform our understanding of the relevance of these stories to our lives, our questions also evolve.
In regard to this week’s Torah portion, we might ask ourselves: What competing values was Abraham struggling with in the Akeda story? How did Abraham deal with the conflicting emotions that this situation engendered? Did Abraham “pass the test” or did he fail? How might things have worked out had Abraham handled this, or other situations, differently? If he had it to do over, would Abraham have done anything differently?
And, what dilemmas, similar to those reflected in our parsha, do we face in our own lives? How do we make our choices? How do these stories help us to work through our own dilemmas?
Jewish tradition has always encouraged us to delve into words of Torah in order to find inspiration, wisdom, and direction for our lives. What better way than to read the stories, to ask questions, and to follow up with discussion?
Truly, there is much more than story-telling in our parsha. These stories, and the discussions they encourage, contain treasured teachings of Torah for all generations.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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