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Summary of Parshat  "Vayeira"

by the editors    
of Torah from Dixie    

Parshat Vayeira (Genesis 18:1­21:24) begins with Abraham's incredible display of kindness, notwithstanding his extreme discomfort from his recent brit milah, to those he perceives to be three men but who are really angels sent by Hashem. The angels deliver their message, declaring that Sarah will miraculously give birth to her first child within the year at the age of 90 (Abraham himself would be 100). After this, two of them proceed to the city of Sodom. Hashem informs Abraham that the cities of Sodom and Amorah will be destroyed for their wickedness, and Abraham responds with a lengthy prayer and dialogue with Hashem on the cities' behalf. Unable to find even ten righteous citizens, Hashem proceeds to destroy the cities, but not before one of the angels saves Abraham's nephew Lot and his family from the destruction. Thinking that the entire world had been destroyed, Lot's two daughters cause their father to become drunk so they can each become pregnant by him, and they each give birth to a son. Sarah is abducted by Avimelech, the king of G'rar, who did not realize that she was married. Hashem responds by striking him with a plague which prevents him from touching her, and informs Avimelech that Sarah is in fact married, at which point she is released.

Sarah conceives and gives birth to Isaac, and Abraham makes a huge celebration. Sarah sees Yishmael (Abraham's son from Hagar) as a menace to her own son's spiritual well-being. Initially reluctant, Abraham follows Hashem's command to listen to his wife by expelling Yishmael and Hagar from his home. With Yishmael about to die of thirst in the desert, Hashem hears his cry and causes Hagar to find a well of water from which the youth is saved. Abraham signs a covenant with Avimelech in the city of B'ersheva, and they live in peace for many years. The Torah portion concludes with the akeidah, Abraham's greatest test, in which he shows his willingness to comply with Hashem's command to offer up his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice.


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