Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thoughts on Parashat Vayera

The opening scene - it begins with 3 men standing over Abraham, and ends with Abraham standing over them as they eat. I wondered at first what the siginificance was of the apparent role reversal. Lily, our dinner guest for the evening, was troubled by why he would have to run out to greet them if they were "standing over him." She provided the most satisfying resolution - being divine beings, when they arrived they were larger than human standing over everything, but as they adjusted to human scale, Abraham had a distance to bridge. This also helps to explain why Abraham is so flighty, running, rushing, and hurrying about in this scene. The midrashic tradition would have us believe that this was Abraham's starndard for hospitality, but that this is special behavior for special guests makes more sense all around. Finally, he stands over them ready to serve, rather than, as I had at first imagined, in a fussy sort of way.

Sodom and Gomorrah
The account opens with God wondering whether to conceal what he is about to do from Abraham, and deciding not to. It seems that God wants to see how Abraham will react. Is this a test of Abraham's willingness to intervene? Or is it God, deeply troubled by what he is about to do seeking a confidante? Or does Abraham's bargaining with God help God to decide where to draw the line. At ten, there is a kind of consensus.

When Lot leaves why is he reluctant to go up to the mountain? What is the wickedness that clings to him? Why are feminine forms used of it - is it his daughters?

The Akedah
Isaacs question of where is the sheep moves Abraham from a simple state of denial that he will have to sacrifice his son to an overt articulation of faith that he will not have to sacrifice his son.

No comments: