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Friday, November 11, 2011
Connecting To The Weekly Torah Portion With Rabbi David Kalb - Eyes Of The World: Vayera

imageRabbi David Kalb, Director of Jewish Education for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at 92nd Street Y, continues his series of guest blogs below, with another post on the weekly Torah portion.

Eyes Of The World: Vayera

This week’s Parsha (Torah Portion) teaches through narrative the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim, the commandment of welcoming guests. At the beginning of the Parsha, Avraham (Abraham) is found sitting in his Ohel (tent), which according to the Midrash, Yalkut Shmoni on Parhsat Veyera was designed in such a way that he could see visitors coming from all directions. In essence it was open on all four sides, enabling Avraham to not only to see any travelers who might be coming, but to indicate that those travelers would be welcome to food, drink or shelter.

Avraham was so committed to being open to welcoming guests that according to the Talmud in Bava Metzia 86b, he sat out in the hot sun despite the fact that this was the third day after his Brit Milah (A Jewish religious circumcision, to bring a Jewish male into the covenant of the Jewish people and God). According to Bereshit/Genesis 17:24, he was 99 years old at the time; imagine the painful state he was in, recovering from his circumcision at such an old age, without the benefit of the anesthesia we have today. The Parsha goes on to describe in detail how Avraham takes care of three travelers, (who according to Rashi, Bereshit/Genesis 18:2 were melachim, angels sent by God). He welcomes them and serves them a meal.

Obviously, this story is about Avraham’s willingness to open himself to guests. However, there is a deeper meaning as well. It is a powerful, symbolic idea that Avraham’s tent is opened up on all four sides. Perhaps we are supposed to learn something through this imagery, and through Avraham himself, a lesson about what it means to be “open.”

Continuing reading the full post on the 92Y Facebook page.

Learn more in a fascinating analysis of the central text of Judaism on January 3. Check out all 92Y Jewish Studies - First Class programs, and you might also be interested in An Introduction to Judaism for Adults at Derekh Torah™ classes.

Previously:
Connecting To The Weekly Torah Portion With Rabbi David Kalb: Born To Run – The Journey: Lech Lecha
Connecting To The Weekly Torah Portion With Rabbi David Kalb

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