The Torah portion of Vayeira opens with the words: “G‑d revealed Himself to Avraham.”1 The Gemara2 comments that this took place on the third day following Avraham’s circumcision; on that day, G‑d visited him to inquire after his welfare. How does the Gemara deduce that this took place on the third day and not earlier?

The ability of the Jewish people to perform Torah and mitzvos subsequent to Mattan Torah , the Giving of the Torah, derives from the performance of the commandments by the nation’s forbears, for “the deeds of the Patriarchs are a sign unto their progeny.”3 However, the mitzvos performed by the Patriarchs were mainly spiritual in nature, and did not have a great effect on the objects involved. In contrast, the mitzvos performed after Mattan Torah permeate physical objects with holiness.

In order that there be a relationship between the mitzvos fulfilled by the Patriarchs and those performed by their descendants, it was necessary that at least one mitzvah be fulfilled by the Patriarchs in exactly the manner that would later be employed by their descendants. This was the mitzvah of circumcision.

One of the main aspects of the mitzvos subsequent to Mattan Torah is their performance in as natural a manner as possible, without recourse to miracles and the like. This is because mitzvos are meant to refine the world by causing sanctity to enter it, rather than miraculously negating its physicality.

This requirement to perform a mitzvah in the most natural manner possible also applies to the preparations necessary for its performance,4 as well as to its effects.

Understandably, when a mitzvah, the preparation or the results thereof, involve natural difficulties, one should not use supernatural means in order to remove these difficulties. Of course, one should not seek out discomfort and hindrances, but if these are a natural part of a mitzvah or its aftermath, they should not be circumvented by supernatural means.

Since Avraham’s circumcision was entirely similar to the mitzvah performed after Mattan Torah , it follows that no miraculous intervention should have been involved in the Patriarch’s natural healing process.

Accordingly, we must understand how it was that the angel Raphael — the angel of healing5 — came to Avraham in order to heal him.6 Why would G‑d send a special messenger to alleviate our Patriarch’s natural discomfort?

The Rambam7 explains that the term “angels” also applies to natural forces. The reason for this is that all things below have a spiritual source above.8 Since the forces of nature descend from angels, they are sometimes called angels — after their source.

It therefore follows that every natural healing derives from the angel Raphael, albeit after a tremendous descent from the spiritual to the physical, until the angel’s action is vested within the physical garments of nature and manifests itself in the specific recovery of a particular individual.

Most people are only capable of seeing the specific healing vested within nature. Avraham, however, was able to perceive the spiritual source of his healing — “he beheld three ‘people,’ ”9 one of them being the angel Raphael. Avraham’s recovery was thus entirely natural; he merely observed the healing at its source.

Therefore, we must say that Raphael came to heal Avraham only on the third day following Avraham’s circumcision, when healing takes place naturally; coming any earlier would have interfered with the natural process. Since Raphael came to Avraham on the same day that G‑d appeared to him, it follows that G‑d’s appearance was also on the third day.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, pp. 77-83