Weekly Sidra: Vayera (And he appeared)
Torah Portion: Bereshit / Genesis 18:1-22:24
Haftorah: Melachim Bet / Kings II 4:1-4:23
Vayeira, Vayera, or Va-yera (וַיֵּרָא — Hebrew for "and He appeared,” the first word in the parshah) is the fourth weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. It constitutes Genesis 18:1–22:24 Jews read it on the fourth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in October or November. The Parasha starts “And he appeared” because the first story describes how HaShem appeared to Abraham one day as he sat outside his tent. Section Vayera continues with the series of tests of faith for Abraham, concluding in one great and final trial.
Last week’s parsha was Lech-Lecha, and at the very end of it, God gave Avraham Avinu the commandment of circumcision, and Avraham and his household were circumcised. Circumcision is referred to not only as a mitzvah – a particular method of connecting to God – but, more importantly, as a covenant. I.e. it encapsulates the message of Judaism in general.
Note: On the Shabbat the Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading. Here are this week`s aliyot:
1st Aliya: The three angels appear to Avraham and foretell the birth of Yitzchak. Upon hearing the news, Sarah laughs to herself.
2nd Aliya: The angels depart to destroy Sodom, and HaShem [God] tells Avraham about His plans for destroying Sodom. Pasuk 18:18-19 proclaims God’s confidence in Avraham to teach the world the concept of justice. Avraham negotiates, unsuccessfully, on behalf of Sodom.
3rd Aliya: The story of the destruction of Sodom is told. Lot’s generosity to the "two visitors" is rewarded and he, his wife, and only two of their children are saved from Sodom. The angels arrive in Sodom and Avraham’s nephew Lot is waiting at the gate of the city looking for guests, as he learned from his uncle Avraham.
4th Aliya: Lot’s wife looks back upon the destruction of Sedom and dies, and Lot and his two daughters escape into the mountains. Lot’s daughters conspire to rebuild humankind, and taking advantage of Lot’s drunkenness, they become pregnant from Lot resulting in the birth of Ammon and Moav. Avraham encounters Abimelech after which Sarah gives birth to Yitzchak in the year 2048.
5th Aliya: Yishmael and Hagar are forced out of Avraham’s home, and an angel reassures Hagar of Yishmael’s destiny. Sarah notices the bad ways of Yishmael and wants him to leave so as not to influence Yitzchak. God says to Avraham: "Listen to your wife" (this verse is widely quoted to show that wives are held in such high esteem in the Jewish family).
6th Aliya: Abimelech and his general Phichol resolve their conflict with Avraham over water rights, and they "sign" a covenant of peace.
7th Aliya: In the year 2085, when Avraham was 137 and Yitzchak was 37, Avraham is commanded to sacrifice Yitzchak, the akaida — the binding of Yitzchak. This amazing story heralds the end of Avraham and Sarah’s era, and the beginning of Yitzchak and Rivkah’s era.
This is the Torah reading on Rosh Hashanah. In addition, the shofar we blow on Rosh Hashanah is a ram’s horn reminiscent of this story.
Tags: Alef, aliya, aliyot, circumcision, concept of justice, destruction of sodom, FFOZ, first word, Israel, lech lecha, mdash, Messiah, mitzvah, parasha, parsha, parshah, Shabbat, simchat torah, three angels, Torah, Torah Club Volume, Torah Reading, Torah study, vayera, weekly torah portion, yera
More Related Articles: