Shabbat Parashat Vayera Think Again!

Dear Friends,

I love it when someone tells a story, leading us on to believe we know what the next chapter will be… and after a pregnant pause, they look us in the eye….and then they say: “Think Again!”

We are often interested and surprised when the ending of a story is nothing like what we imagined that it would be. That is what our weekly Torah portion of Vayera is like – a string of stories which take us by surprise as we read the endings.

In fact, the entire Torah portion is full of surprises. Vayera starts with an idyllic setting. Peaceful. Sunny. Hopeful. Abraham is sitting at the “door” of his tent, in the desert, basking in the mid-day sun, recouperating from his circumcision, and looking to see if anyone might amble along on the hot and dusty road. Abraham is prepared to invite guests into his home (tent). He experiences a vision of God’s presence, as he sits and waits….But, then…

The end of the parsha is the aftermath of the Akeda story [the Binding of Isaac]! I say aftermath because Abraham and Isaac, who came to Mount Moriah together, leave Mount Moriah very differently. Each of them goes on his separate way, never speaking with one another for the rest of their lives!

And, of course, within the story of the Akeda itself….there is Abraham, who is set to follow God’s command to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, but just in time, he hears the voice of an angel telling him to stop! And, Abraham stops. He lifts his eyes, and “thinks again” as he suddenly sees a different ending to the story. He suddenly sees a ram caught in a thicket… right there! And he sacrifices the ram, instead of Isaac.

How often does real life, and not simply a story or a joke, invite us to “think again!”. How often do we manage to lift our eyes to see alternatives that make that much more sense – alternatives that are right in front of our eyes!

Over and over, the Torah tries to teach us to “think again” – to work on finding morally sound solutions to the on-going dilemmas of life.

I love the Torah for teaching us to “think again” – over and over. And, I hope you do, too!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror