Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Vayera - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayera. Abraham is sitting by the entrance to his tent - it's in the middle of the day and it's very hot. He sees three men, runs towards them and offers them hospitality.

Abraham who was going to bring blessing to the world, teaches us how to be hospitable. He runs and prepapres a sumptuous meal for the guests, gives them water to cool down, appetizers and serves them a festive meal.

The three men (angels - messengers from G-d) have some good news and some bad news. Good news - Sarah will conceive and have a child, one year from today. Bad news- The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed because of the evil ways of the inhabitants.

After rescuing Lot, Abraham's nephew and his family, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is described as follows:

"The L-rd rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfurous fire from the L-rd out of heaven. He annihilated those cities and the entire plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the vegetations of the ground. Lot's wife looked back and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt."

As we read this parsha it is hard not to think of what has happened this past week in our country with the devastation and destruction brought upon many by hurricane Sandy. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed by water and fire, close to 100 individuals have perished and thousands of people have lost everything and are now lacking basic needs to survive.

Abraham's kindness has been shown by the bravery and courage of the first responders, individuals who risked their own lives to save others. We continue to see the Hessed (grace) of so many who have opened their hearts and resources to help.

As we read the parasha, think of Abraham's compassion for others, and how important it is that we all find ways to help our fellow citizens in this great part of our country. The local Minnesota organization NECHAMA, the Jewsh Response to Disaster, is already in New York helping those who have suffered so much.

Do your best - you are a descendant of Abraham.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram