Drasha - Parshas VaYayera
Volume 2 Issue 4
It's not often that one receives such diverse company on a single day. But if you're Abraham, anything can
happen. The portion begins this week as Abraham is sitting outside his tent, three days after his
circumcision, on a boiling hot day. He is visited by none other than the Divine Presence. In the middle of
the conversation, Abraham looks up. He spots three Arab nomads meandering, in the intense heat in his
direction. Imagine yourself. You are recuperating from an operation that most males receive 99 years
prior, you are in the middle of a conversation with G-d Al-mighty, and three Arabs happen to pass within
shouting distance of your tent. We all know what we would and would not do. Let us analyze what
Abraham does, and how he does it.
The Torah tell us, "and he (Abraham) said, 'My Master, if I find favor in your eyes, do not pass over your
servant.' " The Torah is unclear. Who was Abraham referring to when he said "My Master?" Is he telling
G-d not to withdraw His presence as he invites some nomads, or was he respectfully interrupting his
conversation with G-d as he shouts to the wayfarers, "Don't leave me, I'll be with you as soon as I finish
this conversation with G-d?"
It is quite hard to believe, but these two ideas are Talmudic opinions! I understand how the Talmud can
argue about a tree -- was it a willow tree or an apple tree? After all the difference is not consequential.
Was the window situated in Noah's ark an actual pane of glass or a sparkling jewel that allowed for a
brilliant shine? The opinions in those instances are diverse yet compatible. But the schism in opinions,
whether "My Master" is referring to G-d Himself or the leader of a band of Arab shleppers, is too wide to
What is more troubling is how is it possible to say that Abraham actually paused during a conversation
with G-d to tell a few Arab nomads to wait untill he is ready?
Rabbi Isser Zalman Melzer was once sitting with a group of students when suddenly
one of them looked out the window and announced that one of Israel's leading Torah scholars was coming
toward the home. Rav Melzer quickly prepared his modest Jerusalem apartment to greet the
honored guest. The table was bedecked with a freshly laundered, tablecloth adorned with a bowl of fruit,
in honor of the distinguished visitor. Rabbi Melzer changed into his Shabbos attire so as to show his
Suddenly there was a knock. Reb Isser Zalman rushed to the door to greet the honored guest. However
there was no Rav at the door. In his stead, stood a simple poor Jew who needed a letter of approbation in
order to raise funds. He appeared from the distance like the scholar, but obviously the student was
mistaken. To the surprise of his wife, and even more so the visitor himself, Rav Melzer ushered the poor
man into his dining room. He proceeded to seat him at the head of the table, converse with him, feed him,
and give him the respect he would have afforded a revered guest. After discussing the man's needs, he
wrote a letter full of complimentary descriptions regarding the man and his situation.
After the old man had left, Reb Isser Zalman commented, "who really knows how to evaluate and
differentiate the value of people. Perhaps this is the way one must treat every Jew. I was happy to channel
my enthusiastic expectations of the Rabbi's visit toward this simple Jew."
Avrohom knew that there is a Mitzvah to love Hashem, but he also knew that G-d created man in His
image. Perhaps it can be an acceptable argument amongst our sages, which Master was told "please wait?"
Was it the actual Master of the universe, or the master that was created in the image of the ultimate
Master? Perhaps one of the ways that Avrohom manifested his great love for Hashem was through his
actions toward his fellow human-being. And believe it or not, the Master waited.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.