Parashat VaYera- Don't Think Twice, Just 'Sacrifice'
1. Now HaShem appeared to him in the plains of Mamre and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot
א. וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו ה' בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם:
This is Pasouk alef. From the first Pasouk we can already extract a powerful concept that will carry us through the rest of the Parashah…and our lives.
Among other Berakhot, HaShem Yitbarakh promises to make Avraham a father of all nations specifically through the lineage of his son Yiss'hak. But in the Parashah here we see that HaShem commands Avraham Avinu to sacrifice this very son before he has children of his own. Yiss'hak had no descendants yet! From Avraham Avinu's viewpoint, how could this promise be kept? How can HaShem back away from what He promised?
The English translation of the first verse in the Parashah is "And HaShem appeared to him," Yet this is not a strictly accurate translation. A literal translation of the verse would be "And He appeared to him, HaShem…"
The way the Pasouk is ordered, the one who sees – Avraham - precedes the One Who is seen – Hashem. What is the message we can learn from this unusual syntax? Why did the Torah HaKedoshah phrase the Pasouk this way?
The Rambam, in his Sefer Moreh Nevukhim, Guide for the Perplexed, explains to us that it is clearly manifest and obvious that HaShem Yitbarakh cannot change, alter, or move in any way; He is Omnipresent, He is present everywhere. Since HaShem's presences fills the world, if He 'moved' it would undermine His Omnipresence, implying that He had been previously absent in the place which He is now moving to. There is nowhere where that is empty of HaShem's presence that He would need to move to, He is already there.
Now, with this concept in mind, we must realize that any distance we may feel between us and HaKadosh Barukh Hu it is on our behalf. HaShem is not moving anywhere. Even if He did, we can always find Him since He is everywhere. If you ever feel that HaShem is 'backing away' from what is rightfully due to you, think again; it is not HaShem that moved.
Avraham Avinu understood this. This is why he was so readily able to bring Yiss'hak as a sacrifice. He knew that anything HaShem promises him, it will ultimately be carried out. He had the Emunah that it will all turn out for the best and followed through with what was requested of him. We can see this through his actions.
The day of the Akedah, the sacrifice, the Pasouk reads 'VaYashkem Avraham baBoker' that Avraham woke up early in the morning. Traditionally, we know that anytime the Pasouk says 'VaYashkem' about an individual, it implies that they woke up early because they were enthusiastic about a Missvah, just as Avraham Avinu is here. However, if we consider the Pasouk in a different perspective, we may also learn something else about Avraham Avinu. The Pasouk tells us that Avraham Avinu woke up early. This means he went to sleep the night before. Think about it. Most of us can hardly fall asleep when we have an important meeting or exam the next day. Avraham Avinu was destined to sacrifice his most beloved child the next day and by doing so, forever cutting off his lineage and essentially eliminating the promise made to him, yet he was still able to sleep the night before with a sound mind.
This is the level of Emunah that we are supposed to have. HaShem will never back away from us. We just have to do our part. If we seek Him, He is always there. We just have to seek Him. We have to see HaShem in everything we do and everywhere we go. Perhaps this is why the Parashah has so many references to sight; 'VaYera' means 'And he saw'. We are the ones who have to lift our eyes and see HaShem just like Avraham Avinu lifted his eyes, 'VaYisa eynav', to see the mountain where he would serve HaShem on the highest level by sacrificing his son, the mountain which would ultimately become the site for the Beit HaMikdash.
Be'ezrat HaShem may we all have the zekhout and clarity to find HaShem in all aspects of our lives and to turn to Him not only in every place but also in every time we may need. May we realize that our relationship with HaKadosh Barukh Hu mainly depends on our efforts to seek Him and we must do so even if it may seem illogical to us at that moment. Keep in mind, 'If you ever feel distant from HaShem, remember He is not the one Who moved.'
Wishing everybody an eye-opening, uplifting, inspiring and absolutely beautiful Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!
With deep gratitude to HaKadosh Barukh Hu,
Sources: Ohr HaChaim and Dvash v'Chalav in Iturei Torah; Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch on the Parasha. Thank you R.P. for the beautiful quote! May HaShem bless you with all that is good!