Parashat Vayeira (and He appeared) Genesis 18:1 – 22:24
Haftarah: II Kings 4:1-37
In last week’s blog, I spoke about G-d’s faithfulness to supply the resources that His people need to fulfill their obligations to Him. In this week’s prophetic reading, we learn that not only does He supply what we need to be faithful to Him, but He also supplies for our physical and emotional needs. In the Haftarah, there are two stories that focus on two families. In the first, the husband dies and leaves the family in debt. G-d meets this family’s needs through a unique miracle. In studying the scripture, not only is the miracle itself important, but also the manner of the miracle. Hence, it’s not only important that G-d miraculously met this family’s need, but there is revelation in how G-d met their need. Elisha was used by G-d to perform the miracle for the family. Notice that the creditor was never asked simply to forgive the debt, but G-d supplied what was necessary to fulfill the obligation. In other words, don’t ask G-d for a way out; but a solution to your problems that fulfills your obligations rather than beseeching one to set aside this obligation. One maintains a positive testimony; the other damages this testimony.
Elisha asked the woman, “What is in your house?” II Kings 4:2. In other words, Elisha used what the woman had in meeting the need. What does this reveal? Oftentimes the solution is before us. Notice that the miracle was not provided apart from the family engaging in labor. G-d greatly prefers to work with us in obtaining the solution rather than having us stand idly by. In other words, G-d does not bless idleness. If you carefully read this account, the amount of money that was provided to the family was directly related to the labor they performed.
In the second account, Elisha miraculously provides a child for a barren couple. The mother and father enjoyed their son for many years, until suddenly he died. Rather than being overcome and paralyzed by grief, the woman sought G-d in this time of emotional need. She departed from her home to find Elisha. In approaching Elisha’s home, the man of G-d saw her from afar. He inquired concerning her through his servant, asking, “Is all well with you?” Despite losing her only son, she answered, “All is well.” The word translated “well” is the Hebrew word “Shalom”. Her answer reveals that physical hardships should not be allowed to hinder our relationship with G-d. They may be the very means that G-d wants to use to deepen our relationship with Him. In the end, the son was raised from the dead and the family was reunited. Obviously this was quite the miracle. Unfortunately today, parents lose a child and they don’t see their child resurrected. However, for the believing family, it is only a matter of time. I believe the words of King David, when he lost one of his sons, are most relevant. David said, “Can I bring my son back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” II Samuel 12:23. Obviously this verse is a testimony of David’s faith in the resurrection of the dead in the last days and the great reunion that will take place in the Kingdom of G-d.
The man of faith knows that it is not a question of if G-d is going to meet my needs, but only a matter of when He will do so.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Rabbi Baruch's Parasha
The Rabbi is teaching on ancient Torah, or 'Old Testament', stories that are as current as today's newspaper.