Parshat VaYeira

Summary: VaYeira is the 4th parasha in the Book of Genesis spanning chapters 18:1-22-24. It contains the familiar stories of Abraham’s later years and the challenges that lead him to become the great man of faith and pursuer of justice.

Included in VaYeira are; Abraham’s recovery from circumcision, hosting 3 ‘men’ who inform Sarah will bear a child, G-d revealing plans to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah and Abraham pleading for it to be spared, the rescue of Lot and disgrace with his daughters, a famine that caused Abraham & Sarah to move to Gerar, Isaac’s birth, Hagar & Ishmael’s banishment, a covenant with Abimelekh and the Binding of Isaac.

Comment: Rabbi David Fohrman offers an original insight into the VaYeira drama of G-d and Abraham negotiating the rescue of the city of Sodom. Abraham challenged G-d to uphold justice and not punish the righteous among the wicked.

G-d consented to Abraham’s pleas to save the city if 50 righteous lived there. The dialogue continued until the ransom figure was only 10. Then the Torah informs ‘G-d departed after finishing to speak with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place’ (Genesis: 18-32). But there’s ambiguity whether they had struck a deal.

Immediately the 2 angels went to rescue Lot. Embedded in that story, was a possible successful resolution. Lot was still considered among the righteous whom Abraham spoke about. He’d grown up in Abraham’s home and understood the custom of offering hospitality to strangers. He heard his visitor’s plea to gather up his family to escape but failed to hold sway over anyone but his wife and 2 unmarried daughters.

R Fohrman calculates the number of those in Lot’s household; 2 sons, 2 sons-in-law and 4 daughters plus Lot and his wife – equaled 10. Had Lot only been able to influence his extended family to join him, G-d would have consented – for this was Abraham’s bargain. Furthermore, had Lot influenced the townspeople toward peace and virtue, it might have averted the destruction.

We infer that in difficult and undesirable circumstances, those who have influence to change a situation of desperation and difficulty to goodness, are obliged to act resolutely and with courage. It’s not good enough to close ourselves off and turn away from troubles around us; we must take an active stand. The moral – as much as the wicked are held responsible for their actions, so too are those who stand by idly and watch!