Parshat Vayeira 5779: Why Does Hashem Reveal to Avraham Avinu His Plans to Destroy Sodom and Amora?

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua, Vayeira is sponsored by Dr. David and Tamar Kallus and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh who dedicate this vort Lilui Nishmas for Ari Yoel ben Miri (Ari Fuld, z”l). To the Kallus family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Vayeira 5779: Why Does Hashem Reveal to Avraham Avinu His Plans to Destroy Sodom and Amora?

by Moshe Burt

As this Parshat HaShevua is being written, Am Yisrael has suffered yet another terror fatality; the stabbing murder of a Talmud Chacham, an advocate and fighter for B’nei Yisrael and for Eretz Yisrael, Ari Fuld. The impact of his life; his immense kindness for his fellow Jews and hasbara on behalf of Israel was felt both throughout the Land of Israel and throughout the entire world, in many ways in emulation of Avraham Avinu. Fuld fought with his dying breath, giving chase after the terrorist, climbing a fence and shooting down the terrorist and saving lives of his fellow Jews.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin cites posukim near the beginning of our Parshat (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posukim 17-19) rendering them to English in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text” (page 79) These posukim serve as a frame for the title of this Parshat HaShevua:

“And Hashem said: ‘Will I hide from Avraham what I am about to do? And Avraham is destined to be a great and powerful nation and all of the nations will be blessed through him. For I know of him that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they will guard the way of Hashem to do righteousness and justice, so that Hashem may bring upon Avraham all that He has said concerning him.'”

This author cites Rabbi Zelig Pliskin on our Pashat Vayeira, in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 36-37), where he discusses Avraham Avinu’s righteousness quoting Sefer Mimayanos Hanetzach regarding the importance of Chessed:

Our forefather Avraham was outstanding in his kindness to wayfarers. He took in people who were traveling and expended great efforts to make his guests comfortable….

While Parshat Lech Lecha dealt with Hashem’s call to Avraham to travel from the land of his birth to Hashem’s chosen land, Eretz Yisrael, as well as the Brit Bein HaBesorim (Covenant Between the Halves) and Hashem’s Command to Avraham to do Brit Milah (circumcision) on himself [and every male member of his household], our Parshat opens with Hashem, as we understand, visiting Avraham Avinu on the 3rd day after Brit Milah, when Avraham was at the height of his pain following the circumcision:

“And Hashem appeared to him beneath the trees of Mamre, as he was sitting before the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” (Translation rendered by “The New Hirsch Chumash,” Sefer Breish’t, Perek 18, posuk 1)

Rashi indicates, “to inquire about his welfare.” (Metsuda Linear Chumash rendering of Rashi on Perek 18, posuk 1)

It’s not like Hashem needed to pay a visit to ascertain Avraham’s actual condition. Hashem is the Creator, The Master, The Ruler over the world who knows and is aware of everything.

But Hashem knew that Avraham had built his life around knowing, and following the ways of his Creator and thus, it seems to this author, that Hashem’s visit was to convey to Avraham His Love and Care. And so, as Hashem visited with Avraham, inquiring as to his well-being, Avraham pardoned himself from Hashem when he spotted travelers, inviting them into his tent.

Many of our S’forim and Chumashim seem to downplay the impact of the Bikur Cholim aspect of Hashem (as we understand), visiting Avraham Avinu, for the seemingly larger contexts of showing him honor for having done Bris Milah to himself, for his Hochnasat Orchim (his kindness and hospitality) toward his three guests (the Molochim — Angels) and the respective missions of the Molochim:

…Michael, who informed Avraham that Sarah would have a son; Gavriel, who overturned Sodom; and Raphael, who healed Avraham and saved Lot (Rashi, as explained by Gur Aryeh). The last two tasks, healing Avraham and saving Lot, constituted a single mission because they were for the sake of rescue. (Artscroll Chumash commentary of Perek 18, posuk 2 regarding Avraham’s sighting of “three men… standing over him.”)

Rabbi Goldin writes (ibid, page 79-80):

…Each word of Torah is purposely and Divinely chosen…, therefore [it] must be seen as Torah’s way of providing us with a glimpse into “Hashem’s mind.”

Hashem is telling us that he sees a fundamental connection between Avraham’s mission to the world and the impending destruction of the cities of Sodom and Amora. So deep is that link that Avraham must be “brought into the loop” before Hashem can continnue.

….Avraham rises to a level of prophecy as, for the first time, Hashem invites a mortal into what Nechama Leibowitz refers to as “the intimate counsels of the Divine.” (Nechama Leibowitz, Studies in Breish’t, page 165)

From this point on, in each generation, a few chosen spiritual heirs to Avraham will receive that Divine invitation. Serving as prophets [Nevi’im], they will partner with Hashem and play a major role in bringing His message to Am Yisrael and, at times, to the world. As the Navi Amos declares, “Hashem, Keilokim will do nothing until he has revealed His counsel to His servants, the Nevi’im.” (Amos, Perek 3, posuk 7)

Thus Hashem sets a paradigm, an example through Avraham Avinu, for succeeding generations, i.e. Moshe Rabbeinu, Yehoshua and the Nevi’im throughout Tanach.

Rabbi Goldin sums up (ibid, pages 82-83):

Hashem feels compelled to reveal his intentions to Avraham because He wants Avraham to understand that the destruction of the cities will not in any way contradict Hashem’s promises to the patriarch. Upon careful re-reading, Hashem’s internal dialogue reflects exactly this point: “And Hashem said: ‘Will I hide from Avraham what I am about to do? And Avraham is destined to be a great and powerful nation and all of the nations will be blessed through him.'”

Imbedded in this passage are two fundamental promises given by Hashem to [Avraham] from the very start. “You will thrive and your actions will affect the world.” Torah tells us that Hashem is now driven to inform of the impending fate of Sodom and Amora specifically because of those earlier promises.

Torah… is not only telling us why Hashem had to inform Avraham, but also, why Avraham had to respond as he did. Avraham…. argues that the righteous to be found in the cities should not only be saved themselves but that their actions should impact upon the fate of those around them. He desperately wants not only to save the cities but to preserve the integrity of his own mission in the world.

In the aftermath of Avraham’s pleadings, he learns the tragic truth: there are not even ten righteous individuals within the cities of Sodom and Amora. There is no one to affect the destiny of these doomed cities.

Avraham’s mission, however, remains intact. He and his descendants can and will change the world.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of four years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.