Shabbat Shalom Weekly: Vayeira 5760
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Vayeira(Genesis 18-22)

Vayeira 5760

GOOD MORNING!  Ever think about what makes something humorous? I think it is the often sudden, often unexpected, often ironic revelation of information that strikes the harmonic chords of truth.

Humor can be powerful. It can make a bad situation tolerable. It can break down and break through falsehoods. One needs to be careful in use of humor not to break down important values and institutions. One would not want to make fun of marriage; then again, one might want to make it tolerable...

Two weeks ago I presented "The Name Game" -- i.e., "What would the (name of professional/worker) name his son/daughter?" My thanks to you, my readers, who sent in the following responses! I hope that at least one of them will bring a smile to your face and lighten your load. Life can be tough. (One cynic once quipped, "Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue.")


PROFESSION NAME

Lawyer's daughter: ...... Sue
Thief's son: ...... Rob
Lawyer's son: ...... Will
Doctor's son: ...... Bill
Meteorologist's daughter: ...... Haley
Steam shovel operator's son: ...... Doug
Hair Stylist's son: ...... Bob
Homeopathic doctor's son: ...... Herb
Justice of the peace's daughter: ...... Mary
Sound stage technician's son: ...... Mike
Hot-dog vendor's son: ...... Frank
Gambler's daughter: ...... Bette
Exercise guru's son: ...... Jim
Cattle Thief's son: ...... Russell
Painter's son: ...... Art
Iron worker's son: ...... Rusty
TV show star's daughter: ...... Emmy
Movie star's son: ...... Oscar
Barber's son: ...... Harry

It has been said that a person who enjoys puns awaits a groan like a soloist in a symphony anticipates applause.


Torah Portion of the Week
Vayera

Avraham, on the third day after his brit mila, sits outside his tent looking for guests to extend his hospitality. While talking with the Almighty, he sees three visitors (actually angels of the Almighty). Avraham interrupts his conversation with the Almighty to invite them to a meal. One angel informs him that in a year's time, Sarah, his wife, will give birth to a son, Yitzhak (Isaac).

God tells Avraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its absolute evil (the city is the source of the word "sodomy"). Avraham argues with God to spare Sodom if there can be found ten righteous people in Sodom. Avraham loses for the lack of a quorum. Lot (Avraham's nephew) escapes the destruction with his two daughters.

Other incidents: Avimelech, King of the Philistines, wants to marry Sarah (Avraham's wife), the birth of Yitzhak, the eviction of Hagar (Avraham's concubine) and Ishmael. Avimelech and Avraham make a treaty at Beersheva. Avraham is commanded to take up his son, Isaac, to sacrifice him (Akeidat Yitzhak). Lastly, the announcement of the birth of Rivka (Rebecca), the future wife of Yitzhak.

Want to know the reward for listening to the command of the Almighty? This is what the Almighty told Avraham: "... I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice."

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When the three angels passed by Avraham's tent, Avraham pleaded with them to accept his hospitality "because you have passed by your servant" (Genesis 18:5). How is it possible that Avraham consider the fact that they were passing by to be a compelling reason for them to accept his hospitality?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that Avraham's communication to his guests meant that Avraham considered it his honor that they were passing by him. Everything that they did, Avraham appreciated as if they did it special for him; he appreciated their passing by and their accepting his hospitality as a kindness specifically for him alone.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz cites the Talmudic (Kiddushin 7a) principle that when someone gives something to a distinguished person, the fact that the person accepts the gift is considered as if one received something from him. Therefore, giving to a distinguished person is actually taking. Who is distinguished? To an arrogant person, no one. To a humble person, like Avraham, everyone is considered distinguished. He honors and respects every human being. Therefore, he considers giving to any person as a personal favor to him.

Our lesson:  Look upon it as your opportunity for growth, personality and character development, to make a better world every time that you are able to help someone. Look upon THEM as doing you a favor by letting you help them.

Published: January 17, 2000

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