Leah’s Blog Parashat Vayera
Vayera October 2021
Is history comprised of outstanding individuals who shaped events with their abilities and chutzpah, or is it a tide sweeping over places in the world, with humankind just specks of sand on the landscape? Are things just “chance” or are they Divinely inspired? Were there really miracles in the bible or are they stories of people running and doing and creating reality with the work of their own hands? Are these themes archaic, history -the past- do they apply to us now? The foundational stories we are reading now have specific “stars” that take front and center stage that have impacted the world then and now with their motivational stories. This parsha and its haftarah has two definite themes that answer these questions and serve as a model for inspirational influence for all generations of history. The standards our forefathers had were high, the criterion based on being a pipeline for bounty, the pipeline that connects heaven to earth -as in man creating vessels and filling them; these are charged with both worldly things and spiritual lights. The stories we are reading about parallel miracles happening then and now. The parsha emphasizes it, the haftarah reiterates it.
Someone recently said to me that they like being Jewish; they like the sense of community, but that they are not sure these biblical stories really happened. Skepticism vrs. having Holy Chutzpah in faith has always run through Torah themes. Time and time again though, holy chutzpah prevailed. The tests of Abraham didn’t end with yearning and waiting for a son till he was a hundred years old; he and Sarah aged and withered, of course she laughed! Life was FULL of trials “אלוהים ניסה את אברהם . ” Hashem led Abraham to a place He said He would show him. Abraham was the first person to believe in G-d. He walked where Hashem led him, even if that land had a famine, even if he ultimately was asked to forfeit the very life promised to him. Many open miracles were performed for Abraham as we see in the akeida –”Take your son, your only son, whom you love and go to the Land of Moriah” A miracle happened and Yitzchak was saved, in a sense he was born again. The Torah emphasizes the crucial lesson that nothing is more important than life. In the story of the Shunamite in our haftarah, the little boy’s mother didn’t wait for a miracle but she ran to the prophet and he didn’t wait for a miracle, performing necessary spiritual and practical motions. Even before the boy was conceived, the prophet was busy filling up the many vessels she had run out to collect for him. There was a scurry of action throughout the Shunamite story. In
the end, a miracle did happen and life was given- he was born again.
The nations of the world laughed sarcastically while thinking our hope was lost when a bunch of skeletons that walked out of the ovens of the holocaust came to make a great noise in creating the state of Israel, bone rattling bone as exactly prophesized by Ezekiel (36, 37) . Over a million Jews from Arab countries that were cast out sometimes overnight and thrown into transit camps often with all of their worldly possessions seized before departure. This was a nightmarish time for us, perhaps the darkest in our history. Not all the stories are easy in the narrative of revival. In the end, the blessing given to Abraham to be as great as the sand on the sea and the stars in the sky. G-d speaks to us. Now too we go to the place Hashem shows us. The spark ignites and kindles a burning desire- Hashem’s desire- Israel’s rebirth and our duty to create new vessels and fill them with both practical and spiritual energy; the sky is the limit! We are lighting Shabbat candles; on the time scale of history – Shabbat is about to happen.! There is skepticism even now, even resistance to it, even as the life force spirals into the most significant occurrence in modern history. We have a purpose, us grains of sand: to shine like stars, the significance of this is taking front and center stage now. Israel has been born again!
Shabbat Shalom, Leah