You are currently viewing Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Vayera

Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Vayera



This week’s parsha is the parsha of chesed and lovingkindness, exemplified by our patriarch Avraham.

Avraham’s trait of kindness is first displayed at the beginning of the parsha when he rushes out to greet the three angels, who appear to him as men. Avraham makes a great effort, serving them food and offering them a place to rest.

This act of hospitality occurs when Avraham is recuperating from circumcising himself at the age of 99! Yet, in spite of the discomfort he must have felt, he sat outside his tent, waiting for travellers to pass by so that he could welcome them and feed them. Commentators tells us that G-d made this day an especially hot day so as to deter Avraham from sitting outside his tent, thus exacerbating his discomfort. However, when it became clear that Avraham was intent on greeting guests, G-d sent Avraham three angels to visit him.

The second episode, in which Avraham becomes the exemplar of lovingkindness occurs when Avraham plants an orchard and “calls out in the name of G-d.” The commentaries explain that the purpose of this orchard was either to produce fruit for Avraham’s guests or it represented an inn in which Avraham would serve his guests food. When the guests would leave and thank Avraham for the meal, he would say, “Don’t thank me, thank G-d.”

This was Avraham’s lifetime mission: to engage in acts of chesed, welcoming guests and offering them lodging, in order to speak about and educate others in the one true G-d, as the first proponent and believer of monotheism.

Why does the Torah spend so much detail on the specific episode of welcoming the angels, whereas when it comes to the story that tells of Avraham’s lifelong mission, there is only one verse, which appears as no more than a mere hint.

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z’l explains that Avraham’s act of kindness with the angels was recorded in such detail precisely because of the amazing effort it required. Astonishingly, this episode occurred just three days after Avraham’s circumcision, when he was in great pain. In spite of this, Avraham ignored his personal discomfort and ran in great zeal to tend to his guests and take care of their every need.

More than the mitzvah is the effort with which one engages in it. It appears from this archetypal story of Avraham greeting his guests, G-d meant to emphasize the lesson that the greater the effort, the more it is beloved in G-d’s eyes.

So too in our own lives: G-d looks not only at our actions, but at our efforts, excitement, and enthusiasm that we expend in carrying out the action. All we are expected to do is our best. Indeed, the source of our merit accrues through our efforts, first and foremost. As we learn in Pirkei Avot – “Ben Heh Heh says – L’fum tzara agra” – “According to the effort is the reward.”

For those wishing to join Hennie's Torah Tuesday classes online, please contact Hennie Black at