Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Vayeira

Thirst for Torah

Parshas Vayeira begins by telling us that G‑d appeared to Abraham while Abraham was “sitting at the entrance of his tent, in the heat of the day.”

Why was he sitting there? To look for guests. Abraham dedicated himself to deeds of kindness, feeding hungry wayfarers in an effort to heighten their awareness of G‑d.

“Days are coming, [when people will be] hungry - but not for bread, thirsty - but not for water, but to hear the word of G‑d.” And there must be people like Abraham ready to provide for them.

At times, this thirst may be consciously felt, and in other instances, a person may be unaware of his own thirst. But this lack of awareness does not change the reality. At the core of every man lies a soul that was created in the image of G‑d. And every being seeks to express its fundamental identity. Therefore, when we emulate Abraham’s example and extend ourselves to these individuals, we will discover a readiness to respond that reflects their inner G‑dly nature.
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The Power of Self-Sacrifice

The Torah reading concludes with the story of the binding of Isaac, showing Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. Throughout the Bible and our prayers, this demonstration of faith is mentioned repeatedly as one of the merits of our people. The commentaries ask, however, why Abraham’s fulfillment of G‑d’s command is given this degree of importance. There are, countless examples of martyrdom throughout our people’s history. Men and women were willing - and actually did - sacrifice their lives and those of their children for the sake of our Jewish heritage.

One of the explanations given is that Abraham’s nature was characterized by love and kindness. These feelings dominated his character, therefore for him to perform an act that required him to overcome these feelings of love was doubly difficult.

Another interpretation underscores Abraham’s mission in the world at large. For years, he had preached to people of the need to worship G‑d in one’s heart and to scorn the pagan practices of human sacrifice. To sacrifice his son would make him the laughingstock of all his neighbors and render meaningless all of his years of effort. Nevertheless, he proceeded without hesitation.

Abraham’s full-hearted commitment endows us with a wealth of spiritual resources. We too can overcome our natural tendencies, rise above them in G‑d’s service and commit ourselves to Him with eagerness and desire. And we all have the power to put behind us all thoughts of our reputation, and dedicate ourselves to fulfilling His command without hesitation or doubt.
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Abraham’s Circumcision

Vayeira relates how G‑d appeared to Abraham after his circumcision. Abraham's circumcision had a unique significance, taking place when he was ninety nine years old.

Even when a Jew is ninety-nine, and not merely in calendrical years, but in uninterrupted years of service (for when the Torah describes Abraham as “advanced in days,” the Zohar comments that this means that each day was complete in its service), he is still bound to circumcise himself, meaning, spiritually, to remove the “foreskin” of the world, that surface of selfish pleasures which conceals its true nature as the Divine creation.

For it is written in Pirkei Avot, “When a man is one hundred, it is as if he were already dead and passed away and removed from the world.” In other words, at such a point, in age or in spirit, when the world no longer masks the Divine, a man has achieved the inner meaning of circumcision. But before this, even by one year or one degree of holiness, the task remains unfulfilled.
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The Importance of Hospitality

The Torah portion of Vayeira begins by relating that G‑d appeared to Abraham at the entrance of his tent. But when Abraham observed three strangers standing nearby, he got up, asked G‑d to wait, and ran to greet the strangers and offer them hospitality.

Thus, for the sake of hospitality to strangers, Abraham left G‑d waiting. Indeed, our Sages glean from Abraham’s conduct that “Hospitality to wayfarers is even greater than receiving the Divine Presence.” Such hospitable behavior has become an integral part of Jewish conduct — another example of the abovementioned pattern described by our Rabbis. Yet Abraham himself had no such commandment. What led him to feel that it was proper to forsake G‑d for the sake of strangers?

Kindness toward others can be motivated by either magnanimity or humility.

An example of kindness that results from humility is the charity exhibited by Abraham, who said of himself: “I am mere earth and ashes.” Because he felt himself to be less significant than all others, he felt it natural to extend kindness and honor to all.

Because Abraham’s kindness and hospitality stemmed from humility and self-effacement, he not only placed his physical life in jeopardy by battling mighty kings to save the lives of others, but was even prepared to put his spiritual life in jeopardy — something much more important to him than his physical life. This superior brand of kindness is what motivated Abraham to leave G‑d waiting while he went to greet passing strangers.
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Emulating Abraham

Sometimes we are put into situations that give us an opportunity to show true dedication and commitment. Faced with such circumstances, we must learn from our forefathers. Just like Abraham who was ready to carry out G‑d’s will in even the most challenging circumstances, we must apply ourselves to the task of reaching out to our fellow Jews, even if it means sacrificing of ourselves: