Parashat Vayeira

Friday, October 22, 2021/16 Heshvan, 5782
Parashat Vayeira Genesis 18:1–22:24

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, I had the honor of participating in the oldest recorded religious ritual in the world. The Brit Milah, or ritual circumcision, is the first ritual we know of, dating back to the stories of Abraham. Indeed, it is such an honor to participate in this ritual, as we welcome an 8-day old baby boy to the covenant of the Jewish people, through the ritual of circumcision, just as Abraham started thousands of years ago, at the age of 99.

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, we find Abraham recovering from his circumcision, as three strangers approach his tent. What he does, teaches us the important lesson of hachnesat orchim, or welcoming the stranger. It is not enough that Abraham welcomes these strangers, but he literally stands up and runs to welcome them, we are taught.

As he and Sarah welcome them into their tent, these strangers bring with them the first message of a miraculous birth. Sarah will have a child. In a very honest reaction, Sarah and Abraham laugh, which ultimately becomes their son’s name, Yitzchak, coming from the Hebrew word for laughter. While the story of two nonagenarians is completely absurd, and worthy of laughter, it marks the beginning of the progeny of the Jewish people, teaches us the importance of welcoming everybody into our tents, and shows us that the rewards of our actions could be miraculous.

Indeed, we can continue to learn from Torah, and are demonstrating our learning, as we open our Temple Beth El tent as widely as we can. May we as a community always know the importance of welcoming all into our tent. May we know sweet rewards, for us and for those who join us, and may we open ourselves to experience the presence of the divine, the miracles we encounter each and every day, within our tent, our community, our Beth El.

Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Ilan Davidson