The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Vayera from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Genesis 18:1-22:24
HAFTARAH ~ 2 Kings 4:1-37 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Matthew 1:18-25
This week's Torah portion continues the unfolding of the promise of God to Abraham through the birth of Isaac. Usually when we think about Abraham, we think about the calling to be the father of the people of promise. After all, one of the main promises to Abraham was to have an heir who would inherit the land and push the promise of blessing to the nations forward. But according to the text from this week's portion, Abraham's calling was not only to father children, but also to inculcate a way of life into his children and future posterity. In Genesis 18:16–19 we read: "Then the men rose up from there and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him'".
The first thing to notice is that there is a reiteration of the calling that in Abraham all of the nations will be blessed. Notice that the text goes on to say that the way in which Abraham will fulfill this calling is to command his children to walk in the way of the Lord. The calling of Abraham, and therefore the calling on Israel, cannot be reduced to simply producing the Messiah. The calling of Abraham and Israel is to be a people that demonstrate the character of God and draw the nations into a relationship with the God of Israel. When the nation is at Mt. Sinai, God applies the calling of Abraham to the nation, calling them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Their responsibility is to obey the voice of God and keep the covenant. In other words, the nation is to walk in the way of the Lord and to be faithful to the promise of God. The nation is called to be like Abraham.
When the Messiah came, He inaugurated the New Covenant so that Israel could be restored to her calling. In addition, He came so that anyone who calls upon His name can participate in the covenant blessings. Therefore, like Abraham, we are called to walk in the way of the Lord and to teach our children and grandchildren this calling and way of life. This is what it means to be the Messianic people. In Abraham's life, we see that when he learned of the imminent demise of Sodom he interceded on behalf of the righteous. According to Nahum Sarna:
Abraham is granted this singular privilege because he symbolizes the future Jewish nation, which is destined to become a source of blessing to other nations. As such, he cannot avoid direct involvement in the fortunes of humanity at large. At the same time, he is the repository of those eternal values of righteousness and justice that constitute "the way of the Lord". God relies upon him to transmit this heritage to his posterity, which is the indispensable precondition for the fulfillment of the divine promises. The lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah, the judgment of God, and the actions of Abraham exemplify the principles of justice and righteousness, divine and human. 1
In Yeshua, we live Israel's future today because of the pouring out of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Let us engage in the task of inculcating into our children and grandchildren the way of the Lord through our words and deeds; and may we be a blessing to the nations as we share the Good News of Yeshua and intercede before God for righteousness and justice.
1 Sarna, Nahum M. Genesis. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989. Print. The JPS Torah Commentary.
TORAH READING: GENESIS 18:1 – 22:24
18:1 Now the L-RD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.
2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth,
3 and said, "My L-rd, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.
4 "Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree;
5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant." And they said, "So do, as you have said."
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes."
7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it.
8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.
9 Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "There, in the tent."
10 He said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing.
12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my L-rd being old also?"
13 And the L-RD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?'
14 "Is anything too difficult for the L-RD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son."
15 Sarah denied it however, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh."
16 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off.
17 The L-RD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
19 "For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the L-RD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the L-RD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him."
20 And the L-RD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.
21 "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the L-RD.
23 Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24 "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?
25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
26 So the L-RD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
27 And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the L-rd, although I am but dust and ashes.
28 "Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?" And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
29 He spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it on account of the forty."
30 Then he said, "Oh may the L-rd not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."
31 And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the L-rd; suppose twenty are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the twenty."
32 Then he said, "Oh may the L-rd not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten."
33 As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the L-RD departed, and Abraham returned to his place.
19:1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 And he said, "Now behold, my L-rds, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square."
3 Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;
5 and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them."
6 But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,
7 and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.
8 "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof."
9 But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.
10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
11 They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.
12 Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;
13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the L-RD that the L-RD has sent us to destroy it."
14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the L-RD will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city."
16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the L-RD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.
17 When they had brought them outside, one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away."
18 But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my L-rds!
19 "Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;
20 now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved."
21 He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.
22 "Hurry, escape