Parashat Va’yerah, Genesis 18:1 to 22:24

Week of 11/3/23. Three consecutive Torah portions deal with the life of Abraham and his family. Last week, we encountered him and his relationship with God. We also saw him make a sojourn to Egypt, which was fraught with dangers. This week, in this week’s reading, we find him a shining light. In a way the crises he faces define his part of the covenant, the terms he must live by, if it is to remain a covenant of two equal partners. This Shabbat we discover Abraham’s willingness to abide by the covenant and challenge God about certain issues.

The crises are as follows: Abraham’s arguing with God about the nature of divine justice. This we find in the story of his bargaining with God about the future of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. The second crisis is his faithfulness to God—is he willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, his beloved son. Abraham’s success in both situations reflects what is required of a Jew: a willingness to argue with God and deal with injustices in the world; and a faith in God reflected by the willingness even to offer one’s beloved child, or give up one’s own life for the sake of a child.

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