Our parashah for this Shabbat continues with report of Abraham’s and Sarah’s journey. Both welcome the three unknown visitors and learn from them that Sarah will soon bear a son, despite of her old age. As the visitors had predicted, Sarah bears her son whom she names Isaac. The narrative then focuses on the lives of the two sons of Abraham. Sarah persuades Abraham to send Ishmael away, (together with his mother Hagar), which he only does, after God tells him that he “will make a nation of him [Ishmael].” Several years later, God tests Abraham’s faith by ordering him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. Isaac is saved at the last moment by an angel, sent by God.
The stories of Sarah’s request to send away Ishmael, and Abraham being called by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, are considered as one of the most important events in the Torah, because they raise the questions of faith and loyalty to God and to the people we share our lives with. How far can we go, if we are asked to do something that is wrong in our eyes; at which point turns faithfulness into religious fanaticism?
Rabbi Harvey Fields gives us a helpful guideline: “Loyalty to God does not mean ‘blind faith.’ Sometimes it means asking difficult questions about what it is that we should or should not be doing. Sometimes it means being willing to take risks for what we believe is just and right. Sometimes it means delaying action until the facts are analysed carefully. Sometimes it means being willing to reconsider opinions and to make changes when presented with new evidence or better perspectives.” And sometimes it means to say no, and to stand for it.
Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Schell
Torah Reading for Shabbat Vayera
Genesis 18:1-22:24 (Reading 18:1-22; Plaut p.123; Hertz p.63)
Haftarah: Second Kings 4:1-37 (Plaut p.149; Hertz p.76)
NEW: The Prayers of our Siddur
Continuing this Thursday (29 October), Bet David offers an additional weekly learning opportunity for adults. Rabbi Schell will be leading Shiurim every Thursday evening (18h00-19h30) discussing the Prayers of our Siddur. He will explore with you the history of the prayers, their context and meaning, including the Hebrew original. This Shiur; is open for everyone; no background or Hebrew knowledge is needed. The Torah Study with Rabbi Schell continues this Shabbat, 07 November at 08h45.
Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Radio Sermons on Radio Today, follow http://betdavid.podomatic.com/.