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Parashat Vayera - 5777

Dear friends,

It is good pt be back. My trip to Israel with 11 wonderful individuals, several members from our congregation and friends from other communities, was very educational and most inspiring. We learned about our people through visits to historical places from the past, heard and saw the tremendous growth that Israel is experiencing at the present, and their hopes for the future.

This week's Parasha describes many important events in the life of our ancestors Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. I will discuss just the opening story in this week's reading.

Vayera - Appears - G-d appears to Abraham in the form of three travelers passing through the desert.

Vayar - He saw - Abraham saw them, gets up and runs towards them. He begs them to come by his tent, and tells them that he will provide them with water to wash their tired feet, and some food, and then they may continue on their journey.

The Torah describes in detail how Abraham and Sarah prepare a huge meal and offer it to the three men. One of the men announces to Sarah and Abraham that she will have a child even though she is already 90 years old.

The men then head toward Sodom and Gomorrah. G-d shares with Abraham His plans to destroy these two cities because "the outrage is so great, and their sin being so grave". Abraham then begins to plead with G-d that the cities be spared for the sake of the innocent people who may be among them. We learn that there are not even ten good people among these two corrupt and violent cities.

In explaining why G-d is informing Abraham of His plans for these cities, G-d says, "For I know him (Abraham) that he will instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the L-rd, by doing what is just and right. . .".

What is Tzedaka and Mishpat - what is just and right? Abraham, who is almost 100 years old, still recovering from having just had his circumcision, on a very hot day could have chosen to stay in and relax. But he gets up and runs towards the strangers to offer a helping hand. G-d shares His plans for wanting to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because He knows that Abraham will always stand for 'what is just and right'.

There is an important message for us. This reading begins with he word 'Vayera' - Appeared. G-d appeared to Abraham. The second verse says 'Vayar' - he saw - Abraham saw. Sometimes G-d provides us with an opportunity to do something good. 'Vayar' - G-d appeared. 'Vayar' - Abraham saw. That is to say, Abraham saw the opportunity to do something good, so he runs and helps these travelers. The same with Sodom. Abraham hears of the destruction awaiting those people, and he immediately pleads with G-d to spare them.

There is much violence in the Middle East. People are committing horrible acts of murder and genocide against one another. And what is Europe and the UN doing about it? Focusing on little Israel, the only democracy in this wilderness. A country that has even opened its hospitals offering humanitarian aid by treating casualties from the war in Syria, its sworn enemy. One must conclude that Europe and the UN are blind to the horrors being committed on humans. They do not see - and do want to see - the real evil, but pick on the smallest country in that part of the world - the only Jewish state.

Vayera and Vayar. He appeared, he saw. If you see something, do something. Do not miss the opportunity to do something of Tzedaka and Mishpat, what is just and right.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram