Welcome to this week’s better know a parsha!! This week we’ll be visiting Vayeira: The fightin’… wait, you did what?!
This week is full of moments that you may not have learned about in sunday school that will leave you all:
We start off fairly low-key though. Abraham is chillin in front of his tent, just recuperating from his circumcision when three travelers show up.
Abraham is a righteous dude, so he gets up, runs to the men and invites them into his tent to have a bite to eat. The travelers accept the invitation and Abraham and Sarah present them with splendid feast:
After eating, the travelers reveal that they’re actually angels in disguise!
They tell Abraham and Sarah that because they were so nice, they’ll have a baby together in exactly one year. The 89-year-old Sarah is like:
Abraham sees the angels on their way to Sodom and Gomorra, which they have been sent to destroy because the populations of the cities are just terrible people. But they’re going to rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot because he’s alright.
God tells Abraham he’s about to wipe out these cities and Abraham is all like:
He bargains with God (which is in and of itself kinda crazy), making the argument that if there are a few righteous people, they shouldn’t be killed with all the sinners.
Eventually God agrees that if he can find 10 righteous people between the two cities, he won’t destroy them. Unfortunately, the search for 10 good people in the city came up empty. Sodom and Gomorra were doomed.
The two of the angels show up to town and Lot invites them into his home to eat and rest. See, I told you he was okay. The people of the town, however, hated people being nice to guests, so they surrounded Lot’s house and demanded he turn over the strangers to be sexually assaulted.
Here’s where things start to get weird—and why I only say Lot is okay. Lot comes outside and is all “please don’t assault my guests! Here, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you and you can do whatever you want to them instead.”
So that’s weird, but then the Sodomites don’t go for the virgin daughters, they want the strangers so they try to break down the door. The angels at this point have had enough and they strike everyone blind.
The angels then tell Lot to get out of dodge along with his wife, kids, everybody. He leaves house with his wife and two of his daughters (the same ones he just offered up to the crowd). In a crucial bit of foreshadowing, the angels tell them that whatever they do, they should definitely not to look back at the city while it’s being destroyed.
So God rains fire down on Sodom and Gemorra and lays waste to the whole area
Lot’s wife falls victim to the foreshadowing, turns around and looks back at the destruction and turns into a pillar of salt. Legend has it, she is one of the salt pillars that make up the saltiness of the Dead Sea.
Here’s where things get weird again (Lot’s family is definitely a strange bunch). Lot decided he and his daughters should live in a cave, so they end up thinking that God has actually destroyed the whole world and they and their dad are the only ones left. So, naturally, they get him drunk and sleep with him in order to continue the human race.
Their kids end up becoming the Moabites and the Ammonites, long-time foes of the Israelites. Go figure.
Now Abraham and Sarah are living in in the south and Abraham decides to pull the whole “she’s not my wife, she’s my sister” thing again (you can look at Lech L’cha for how that worked out last time).
So as you can guess, another king decides he wants him some Sarah, and she is taken to him for what he thought would be a rockin adult sleepover.
However, before he can make the bang boom with Sarah, God comes to him in a dream and tells him Sarah is actually married.
So for some inexplicable reason, a second king decides that rather than kill Abraham for putting him in this position, he will shower him with gifts and send him on his way.
So Abraham and Sarah go on their merry way and lo and behold, Sarah gives birth to a son, just as the angels had promised!
Because she had laughed when they told her she would have a child, Sarah names the kid Itzchak (Isaac), which comes from the Hebrew root for laughter.
Okay, almost done, speed round for a bit: Sarah tells Abraham to kick Hagar and Ishmael out because he’s being a bad influence on Isaac, that happens. The king that had tried to take Sarah as a concubine wants to be besties with Abraham so they dig a well together.
The last bit really deserves a whole entry unto itself and is super interesting and if you’ve made it this far you’re kinda pot committed so pay attention.
God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son, whom he loves, Isaac, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering to God.
So Abraham takes Isaac and they set off for Mt. Moriah (site of the present day Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock/Al Aqsa/etc.) and Abraham builds an alter and prepares to sacrifice his son.
The rabbis are kinda split on this. Some believe this was a test that Abraham past by being willing to sacrifice his son. Others (including most modern commentators) believe Abraham failed this test by being willing to engage in human sacrifice, even when asked to do so by God.
Anyway, thankfully an angel shows up just as Abraham is about to kill Isaac, they find a ram stuck in the bushes and sacrifice that instead.
And that wraps up the Parsha! Thanks for sticking with it!
See you next week for the next episode of As the Torah Turns!
Have a shabbat shalom!!