Vay­era

The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM - THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

And the Lord went His way, when He had fin­ished speak­ing with Abra­ham, and Abra­ham re­turned to his place” Ge­n­e­sis 18:33

WHEN God said that he was go­ing to de­stroy the wicked in­hab­i­tants of Sodom and Go­mor­rah, Abra­ham pleaded with him to spare them. But his en­treaties were un­suc­cess­ful and the To­rah states that when God pro­ceeded with his plans “Abra­ham re­turned to his place”.

An in­stinc­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of this verse is that Abra­ham went back to wher­ever his tent was pitched, pre­sum­ably some­what de­jected and dis­ap­pointed with the re­sults of his di­a­logue with God. But that might not be an ac­cu­rate un­der­stand­ing of what the verse means, be­cause it is un­nec­es­sary for the To­rah to bur­den us with mere nar­ra­tive.

An al­ter­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion is pro­vided by the Span­ish 13th-cen­tury com­men­ta­tor Rabbenu Be­haye, who sug­gested that the in­tent of the To­rah was to tell us that Abra­ham re­turned to his old ways of pro­vid­ing hos­pi­tal­ity to wayfarers.

This in­ter­pre­ta­tion is not only teach­ing us what the verse might mean. It also pro­vides us with an im­por­tant les­son about the na­ture of reli­gious com­mit­ment. Con­sid­er­ing his lack of suc­cess in chang­ing the di­vine will, Abra­ham might well

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