Parashat Vayeira וַיֵּרָא

The Torah writes in our first verse “HaShem appears to him” without mentioning the name Avraham (“אברהם”), to teach us that HaShem frequented him (visited Avraham) many times, starting at the age of three. HaShem spoke to him through the trees as its written “Alonei Mamre” (“בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא”) which in Hebrew means in the oak trees. Just as HaShem appeared to Moshe in the Burning Bush (on Mount Sinai) and to other prophets in the fire, wind, and dreams, He appears to Avraham in the trees. HaShem wanted to assure Avraham that even though he is like an “old tree”, he will still bear fruit; in other words, he will merit children. The word “Mamre” (”ממרא”) has a hidden code which stands for “Kings, Milah, Famine, Fire” (“מלכים, מילה, רעב, אש“), all the events Avraham will deal with. The Midrash says that an Angel named “Mamre” came to him and revealed these future events. Mamre” (”ממרא”) was also one of Avraham’s best three friends: Mamre, Einar and Eshcol. According to our Sages they all loved Avraham and was his advisors. Mamre “מַמְרֵא” was the only one who advised Avraham to accept and perform the Brit Milah according to HaShem’s request. Avraham was doubtful whether his about his slaves and followers will do the same. Mamre said perform the circumcision in public (at noon 15th of Nissan) to you and to Ishmael, and only after they’ll witness your act they will do circumcision. Avraham did as HaShem ordered him in public.

Its good to know that the word ”ערלה” “Orlah” also spells the combination of two words: “Rah” (“רע” – bad) and “Lah” (“לה” – for it – our soul), meaning this part of the skin is bad for the body and must be removed. Interestingly enough Muslim women ware a face-cover called “רעלה” known as the “Hijab” (worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head) which has the same letters of the word ”ערלה” “Orlah”.

The Torah commands us to have the circumcision (מילה ברית – Brit Milah) on the eight day. The question is asked why we must perform the Brit-Milah on the eighth day. HaShem with his infinite wisdom and divine creation taught us a lesson in biology and human development. Every Jewish child must undergo a circumcision eight days after his birth (while healthy). The Midrash says that five new organs were added to the human body, to honor HaShem because of the circumcision. Just as the letter “H” (“ה”) that added to Avram after his circumcision, as a “Segula” (“סגולה” – treasure or ability that supersedes logic or nature). Why do we perform the Brit Milah on the eighth day and on no other day? (Unless in the case the baby has health issues the circumcision is delayed). With HaShem’s amazing creations, the body has a vitamin K (hemoglobin). This vitamin helps clog bleeding and cuts, coagulate. In the entire life of a person this vitamin reaches 70-100% of its capacity in the human body. On the 8th day only it reaches above its normal level and gets to 110%, all in order to heal the baby faster. How great are HaShem’s creations…!

Three men (angels) appears to Avraham. We must understand the profound act by Avraham as he “rushed” to welcome the three men the Angels. Avraham understood that the angels came to save his nephew Lot, in addition their other tasks. We know that Avraham was ninety-nine years old, and on the most difficult and painful day (the third day after his Brit-Milah) the angels came to visit him. Despite the pain, Avraham understood the divine act of rising above his physical pain in order to reach a much higher cause. Avraham prophesied the true existence of his nephew Lot and his future decedents Ruth (Lot’s reincarnated soul), King David, King Solomon, Raban Gamlieal and other Jewish leaders. Avraham knew that they will be kings, Rabbi’s and ultimately the Mashiach, who will bring the true redemption to Beni-Yisrael. For such destiny, Avraham defeated his selfish needs and overcame his pain, in order to secured the ultimate future of his generations to come, the arrival of Mashiach Ben David.

HaShem came to visit Avraham on the third day after his circumcision (“Brit Milah” – “ברית מילה”). This is the most painful and critical day, and HaShem does the Mitzvah of visiting an ill person.  We learn from HaShem the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, the visiting of a sick person. Our Sages say (Leviticus Rabba 34 and Bava Mezia 30b) that the visitor relieves a sick person of one-sixtieth of his suffering.

The three Angels were Michael (“מיכאל”), Gabriel (גבריאל), and Rafael (“רפאל”). Each one of them had a specific task. Michael would inform Avraham and Sarah about Yitzchak’s birth; Gabriel would destroy Sodom (“סדום “) and the five cities (while saving Lot from the people of Sodom); and Rafael would heal Avraham from his wounds. They came on the first day of Nissan before Passover. The Midrash also says that each Angel had only one task to fulfill.

The Angels ask Avraham about Sarah, and the Torah (verse 9) has three dots above the word “Elav” (“אליו”). This comes to teach us that we must ask about one’s spouse when we visit them. The Angels knew where Sarah was, but they did so in order to endear her in the eyes of Avraham, and teach us good etiquette. Also the Midrash says that by asking about Sarah’s whereabouts the Angels assured their children that they will be the great Kohanim in the Bait-HaMikdash (“בית המיקדש”). Avraham answered that “she is in the tent”; the Midrash says that they requested her company in order for her to witness the blessing on the wine after the meal during Birkat Hamazon (“ברכת המזון”). This also comes to teach us about the Halacha of saying a blessing after the food and having all participant presence for the blessings.

They informed Avraham and Sarah that at the same time next year, during Passover, she will have a son, and they will return; and indeed Yitzchak was born on the next Passover. Sarah heard this while “hiding behind” as the Torah writes, “and she behind”; the Midrash says that Yishmael (Hagar’s son) was standing behind Sarah to protect her thinking that the three were men who might harm her (only Avraham knew that they are Angels).

It is also written that Sarah was no longer able to have a child. This Midrash says that Sarah was born without a womb and HaShem made a miracle and enabled her to carry the baby. Usually a full pregnancy can last up to one year, but the most common pregnancies last nine months. It is interesting to learn that the word for pregnancy in Hebrew is “Herayon” (“הריון”), and it has a numerical value of 271, which is the same as the number of days in a nine-month pregnancy. We notice that Sarah laughed while “looking” at her “inside”, as it says (verse 18:12), “וַתִּצְחַק שָׂרָה, בְּקִירְבָּהּ לֵאמֹר”. The two words “וַתִּצְחַק בְּקִירְבָּהּ” has the same letters of “יצחק ורבקה”, Yitzchak and Rivkah. 

The three Angels left and went towards Sodom and Gomorra; Avraham asked HaShem to save the righteous people in those cities. He asked HaShem to let him find fifty righteous people among the wicked (10 for each of the 5 cites). HaShem told him that if he does find fifty righteous people, He will then save the entire five cities. When Avraham heard of HaShem’s willingness to let him try and save Sodom, he become more modest and said, ‘I am like dust and ashes’. When Avraham could not find fifty righteous people, he asked HaShem to let him try to find ten righteous people among the wicked. HaShem told him that if he does find ten righteous people, He will save the entire five cities.

It takes ten men to have a Minyan (“מנין”) to say Kaddish (“קדיש”) for a full eleven months (some say for a full year) to save one’s Neshamah (“נשמה”) during its trial in Heaven. We notice here a profound message by Avraham with regards to 50 and 1 righteous people he might have been able to save. Avraham started with fifty, as the Torah writes (verse 18:24), “for the fifty righteous that are ‘in her’” (“לְמַעַן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבָּהּ”; again the word “Bekirbah”-”בְּקִרְבָּהּ”, which also spells the word “Rivkah”. In my humbled opinion Avraham was hinting to the twelve tribes. We know that Rivkah gave birth to Yaakov who had the twelve tribes. 

HaShem “Pakad” (“פקד”) remembered his promise to Avraham and Sarah. Sarah became pregnant, and HaShem provided here with all that she needed to nurse her baby. The Midrash says she became pregnant on Rosh Hashanah and was only six months pregnant when she gave birth to Yitzchak on Passover (just as the Angels promised them). Both Avraham and Yaakov were born on Rosh HaShanah. Sarah was ninety years old when she gave birth to a boy and Avraham (who was then 100 years old) named him Yitzchak, as HaShem already gave him this name.

The name “יצחק” Yitzchak is an acronym of several teachings and hidden codes:

The letter ”י” in numerical value is 10 – alluding to the 10 tests Avraham passed

The letter ”צ” in numerical value is 90 – alluding to Sarah’s age of 90 giving birth

The letter ”ח” in numerical value is 8 – alluding to the 8th day of his Brit Milah

The letter ”ק” in numerical value is 100 – alluding to Avraham’s age of 100 having Yitzchak

The Torah writes (verse 21:8), “The boy grew and was weaned” (“ויגדל הילד ויגמל”). The Midrash says about the words “VaYigdal HaYeled” (“ויגדל הילד”), that the letters “Hei” (“ה”) and “Gimel” (“ג”) equal 5 and 3 respectively, total of 8, as the 8th day of Brit Milah.

HaShem instructed Avraham to take Yitzchak to be sacrificed to HaShem. The question is why didn’t HaShem tell him right away to take your son Yitzchak? One reason was to show Satan the enormous faith Avraham had in HaShem and his devotion to Him.  Avraham was 137 years old, Sarah was 127 years old, and Yitzchak was 37 years old when they were all being tested with this difficult challenge. We notice that they all had the number seven in their ages at this point in time, alluding to the kedusha of seven as the Shabbat.

Avraham woke up very early to do the Mitzvah that HaShem told him to do. This comes to teach us about the way we must do a Mitzvah and always to “rise up to the occasion”, as the reward is greater. He took a donkey (“חמור”) to teach us that Mashiach Ben David (“משיח בן דוד”) will come on a “donkey” as mentioned by the prophets. That morning Avraham told Sarah that he is taking their son Yitzchak, to Yeshiva (“ישיבה “) to study Torah with the students of Shem (Noach’s son). HaShem asked Avraham to walk for three days to the “place” that he will show him, just as he commanded him in the last Parasha “Lech Lecha”. The place that HaShem sent him to is Mount Moriah (“הר המוריה”) in Jerusalem. This will be the same place where Yaakov had his dream (Beresheet 28:10-22) “Sulam Yaakov” (“סולם יעקב” – Jacob Ladder), as well as where the future Bait HaMikdash (the Holy temple) will be built. It is also where Adam and Noach offered their first sacrifice.

Avraham was told by HaShem to “bring him there for “Olah” (“עולה”), a sacrifice to HaShem. The “Olah” is a kind of sacrifice where the entire offering is burned completely. It was a pretty harsh reality for Avraham. Nevertheless, Avraham went to the “place” HaShem sent him to, and on the third day he got close to it.

The Midrash says that the test of sacrificing Yitzchak, “the Akiedah of Yitzchak” (“עקדת יצחק”), took place on Rosh Hashanah and HaShem guarantees the continuation of the Jewish nation as results of this test. The sacrifice of his most beloved son Yitzchak was the true and final test of Avraham, and we merited the Promised Land and the Torah due to Avraham’s faith. We learn of such merit from Parashat “Ki Tavo”, as the Torah commands us to bring “Bikurim”, first fruit to remind us of Avraham’s and Yitzchak’s final test. For the first time HaShem uses the word test (“Nisa”) “והאלוהים נסה” (verse 22:1). This most difficult test for Avraham teaches us that HaShem too was merciful at this event. In all the other nine tests HaShem never used that word. The word “Nisa” (tested) has two words in it, miracle (“נס “) and HaShem.

There are several fundamental problems with this amazing test. Did HaShem test Yitzchak too, or was he testing Avraham only, or both? Yitzchak was 37 years old, a very bright young man who understood that he was actually a sacrifice, yet never tried to escape or to challenge his father Avraham. Furthermore Yitzchak was such a righteous and loving son that he consoled his father and offered him comfort at this challenging time. He even asked his father to make sure to tie him right in order for the “Shechitah” to be kosher.

Avraham raised his hand with the knife in order to perform HaShem’s will, and an Angel called out his name twice, “Avraham, Avraham”; to teach us the amount of love HaShem felt for Avraham and Yitzchak as they were willing to fulfill His commandment without any hesitation. With the calling of his name twice, HaShem would double his reward, twice in this world and twice in the next world. The word “afterwards” (“Achar” – “אחר”) in the verse “and he saw a ram afterwards”, speaking of the replacement sacrifice, and the name Yitzchak, have the same numerical value of 208. This comes to teach us that for every test there is a reward. Also that each word in our Divine Torah holds a secret and a specific code and we must truly study the Torah to benefit from all its secrets. It is also amazing to learn from the word “Ram” (which was used for the sacrifice), “איל” in Hebrew, has the same numerical value of 41 as the word “האלה” (“from these”), speaking of the word of Satan to HaShem in verse 22:1 “Vayehi Achar HaDevarim HaEleh” (“ויהי אחר הדברים האלה”). The Zohar teaches us a profound secret in the verse (22:13) “and behold behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns” (“וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה-אַיִל, אַחַר, נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו”). The Zohar explains that the two words “אַחַר” and “סְּבַךְ” has a secret code about a future sin for which Avraham was trying to repent on behalf of Bnei-Yisrael. If we take the word “סְּבַךְ” and point out the letter after each of these three letters it will spell “עגל” (“Egel”), alluding to the “golden-calf” sin.

*Yoram Dahan – Author – Book Series – NESS HaTORAH

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