The letter hei…refers to the concept of successfully introducing spiritual energy into this world….

This week's Torah portion begins with two amazing events:
1) G‑d reveals Himself to Abraham, and
2) Sarah, well past childbearing age, is blessed with news of a son.

How did they merit these miracles? Rabbi Yussie Fachler of London pointed out that both Abraham and Sarah received from G‑d an additional letter to their names. Initially Abraham was called "Abram" and "Sarah was called "Sarai". Each were given a hei. The letter hei is the last letter of G‑d's most holy name and refers to the concept of successfully introducing spiritual energy into this world. With their new names, Abraham and Sarah became more effective vessels for G‑d's blessings and were prepared to move on to the next stage in their lives. While it is not common to change a name in Jewish tradition (only when a person is dangerously ill), each of us can accomplish the same new potency in our lives by adding something fixed to our spiritual repertoire. With each new mitzvah we become like a new person and will also be ready for many new blessings in our lives.

And they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" (Gen. 18:9)

The Final Redemption will only come with action….

When Rebbe Yechiel Michal of Zlotshuv would teach his children, he would explain this verse as follows: Angels in heaven are in awe of righteous people! In heaven, the angels had heard how important and great Abraham was, how he was considered one of the wheels of the Divine Chariot, and how his actions made a big impression in the heavens. Sitting in his home, they were disappointed because they did not see anything particularly unique about him; this was because Abraham hid his qualities. This is why they asked "Where is your wife?" Maybe from her they could learn about Abraham's great spiritual level. Abraham's answer was "She is in the tent", meaning that she is also modest, and with her you will also fail in your mission!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe sees it differently: We know of Abraham's greatness. He searched and found his Creator, he was prepared to give his life at Ur Kasdim, he triumphed at the Binding of Isaac and more. Yet, nowhere does the Torah describe Abraham's great qualities like it did with Noah. This is because there is a difference between Jews and non-Jews. All of the nations' relationships with G‑d come from their effort to know G‑d and come close to him. This is not the case with Jews. Their closeness and relationship with G‑d as Jews depends on the fact that G‑d chose them. Now we can understand that the uniqueness of Abraham is not dependent on his efforts to come close to his Creator, but rather that the Holy One Blessed Be He separates him and makes him unique, that G‑d commands and Abraham fulfills.

Something that always bothered me was why in the Binding of Isaac the angel comes back a second time to bless Abraham. (Gen. 22:15) Rabbi Moshe Alsheich of Safed answers that Abraham's persistence in fulfilling his mission after being denied offering his son was considered in heaven as though he had literally offered Isaac. So sweet was this that the angel came again to inform him. Being a Jew in your heart is very important - like loving someone in your heart or feeling compassion. But nothing replaces action. Nothing. The Final Redemption will only come with action.

Shabbat Shalom!

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