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Parashat Vayera / פרשת וירא

Crop of The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah by John Martin


Parashat Vayera is the fourth weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the fourth reading of Bereishit (“Genesis”). Vayera (וַיֵּרָא) is Hebrew for And He appeared and is the first word of the parashah, which begins with HaShem’s appearance to Avraham (Abraham) by the terebinths of Mamre and concludes with the Akeidah (Lit. Binding, I.e. of Yitzkhak / Isaac).

The parashah records the hospitality of Avraham toward the three men who appeared to him, and the exchange between HaShem and Avraham that took place at that time pertaining to the promised heir of Avraham whom Sarah, his wife, was to bear. The parashah explains why such a birth would be impossible in natural terms, HaShem nevertheless promising that Sarah would miraculously give birth to this child.

Avraham’s vistors move on, and Avraham sees them off, two of them going toward Sedom and one remaining behind temporarily. HaShem informs His servant Avraham at this time about His plans for Sedom v’Amorah (Sodom and Gamorah), and the parashah records Avraham’s bold intercession before HaShem and HaShem’s gracious response before departing.

Parashat Vayera then describes the events surrounding the arrival of the two malakhim (angels/messengers) in Sedom, including the righteousness of Avraham’s nephew Lot toward these men in contrast to the wickedness of the other men of the city. Sedom v’Amorah is destroyed, Lot and his daughters are saved, but Lot’s wife and sons-in-law perish because of their unbelief. The account of Lot and his daughters follows, which includes how the people of Moav (Moab) and Amon came to be.

The parashah continues with the events that took place when Avraham sojourned in Gerar, and how HaShem protected Avraham and Sarah from Avimelekh, Melekh Gerar (the King of Gerar), so that Avimelekh did not come near Sarah, though he had intended to make her his wife.

After this, the parashah describes the events surrounding the birth of Yitzkhak, the promised heir of Avraham. Hagar and her son Yishmael (Ishmael) are subsequently sent away from the company of Avraham at the insistence of Sarah, and with HaShem’s approval. Yishmael is blessed by HaShem, however, on account of Avraham, his father.

Parashat Vayera concludes with the covenant that was made between Avraham and Avimelekh at Be’er Shava (Beersheva), followed by the Akeidah, in which HaShem instructs Avraham to take his son, his only son Yitzkhak whom he loves, and to bring him to the land of Moriyah (Moriah) to offer him as a burnt offering on one of its mountains. The parashah describes these events in detail, followed by a brief account of children of Nahor, the brother of Avraham.

Torah Portion: Genesis 18:1 – 22:24

1st Aliyah: Genesis 18:1-14 (14 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Genesis 18:15-33 (19 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Genesis 19:1-20 (20 verses)
4th Aliyah: Genesis 19:21-21:4 (40 verses)
5th Aliyah: Genesis 21:5-21 (17 verses)
6th Aliyah: Genesis 21:22-34 (13 verses)
7th Aliyah: Genesis 22:1-24 (24 verses)
Maftir: Genesis 22:20-24 (5 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Reading: II Kings 4:1 – 4:37
Traditional Sephardic Reading: II Kings 4:1 – 4:23

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Messiah in the Parashah

The Memra of HaShem was revealed to Avraham; HaShem spoke to Avraham by His Memra.

The Promised Miracle Baby

The Memra of HaShem had caused showers of favour to descend upon Sedom and Amorah, to the intent that they might work repentance.

Sulphur and fire were then sent from before the Memra of HaShem from Heaven when they would not repent.

The Memra of HaShem spoke to Avimelekh in a dream.

The Memra of HaShem had shut the wombs of all the women of Avimelekh’s house in displeasure on account of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

The Memra of HaShem was the helper of Yishmael.

Avraham proclaimed confession and belief in the name of the Memra of HaShem.

Avraham praised and prayed there in the name of the Memra of HaShem.

The Memra of HaShem tested Avraham in the Akeidah.

Avraham said the Memra of HaShem would prepare a lamb for him.

Avraham suppressed his mercy for his only son in order to do the will of HaShem, and HaShem suppressed His mercy for His only Son in order to have mercy on Avraham and his descendants.

Yitzkhak obeyed his father and offered himself freely to do the will of G-d, and the Son of G-d did likewise for Avraham and his descendants, the children of Yitzkhak.

HaShem swore by His Memra that He would bless Avraham and his descendants.

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