Posts Tagged ‘Hospitality’

Torah Talk

November 6, 2009

What a week to try to prepare my first Shabbat Torah Talk!  This week’s portion, Vayeira (“and he appeared”) contains not only the story of Sarah, at this point an old woman with wrinkled skin and no menstrual cycle, learning that she will finally bear a child; the story of Sodom & Gommorrah; Hagar and Ishmael’s expulsion from the house of Abraham; but also the story of a divine test in which Abraham nearly sacrifices his son Isaac to prove his commitment to haShem.  It’s no wonder these chapters are re-read on Rosh haShanah.  There is much to consider.

The commentaries I have read on Vayeira speak to many themes including challenge and hospitality.

As this week’s G-dcast narrator suggests, challenge is an integral part of the process of growing up.  “Could you have become the independent, compassionate, thoughtful person you are without the challenges you’ve weathered?  Without the journeys you’ve survived?” Evan Wolkenstein queries.  Perhaps you will never find yourself in the desert with a baby and no water, like Hagar, or on a mountaintop tying your child to a bundle of kindling, like Abraham.  But throughout our lives, we all find ourselves confronted by situations that scare or frustrate us.  We ask “Why?  Why me?  Why now?”  I see no harm in some momentary self-pity, but  as Vayeira teaches,  I encourage you to not let that be the end of it.  Try to find the lesson inherent in that challenge.  Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?  How can I use this to help me grow?”

As Vayeira begins, Abraham is attending to some unexpected guests.  During this week’s Shabbat service, we will be reading a story called “Home For Shabbat” by Deena Yellin.  Yellin’s story reminds us that, as Jews, we will always have friends spread across the diaspora, as well as in Israel.  It reminds us to treat others as we’d like to be treated.  To welcome guests for someday we may be in need of welcoming.  Can you think of a time you welcomed a stranger?  Can you think of a time that a stranger welcomed you?

Shabbat Shalom (TGIF in Jewish)