Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeira – Genesis 18:1-22:4
Maintaining friendships is a lot of work. With some people, you can speak to them once every year or two and pick up right where you left off. But most friends require greater effort. When your life is so busy, how and where do you find the time to nurture important connections? Parshas Vayeira makes clear what it takes:
“And Abraham journeyed from there…and he sojourned in Gerar.” (Genesis/Bereishis 20:1)
The Sabbath’s parsha begins with Abraham receiving three guests who reiterate the promise that he will have a son. Then he learns about the fate of Sodom, where his nephew Lot is living, and Gomorrah. G-d destroys the cities but saves Lot and his daughters, who then give birth to Moab and Ammon. Next, Abimelech abducts Sarah, Isaac is born, Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, and Abraham makes an alliance with Abimelech. The parsha ends with the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac.
Friendship Focuses on the Other
Life was nomadic during Biblical times. But there had to be a better place to go than Gerar. Once again Abraham faced mortal danger when a king coveted his wife. The benefit of moving there must have been tremendous.
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, people stopped traveling through Mamre. Abraham no longer had the opportunity to welcome guests into his encampment. He could have taken the attitude that since there was no one to invite he was exempt from having guests. And G-d wouldn’t have faulted him.
But the Creator prizes hospitality so Abraham made it his hallmark.
Adopt Your Friend’s Priority
Abraham left Mamre and moved to Gerar where he could resume being hospitable. It entailed risk. But he was confident that by embracing G-d’s priority he would receive His protection.
Such is the nature of a true relationship. Each person looks after the interests of the other. Note that Abraham probably spent very little extra time entertaining guests. He and his family had to prepare meals and eat anyway. Hospitality may have meant serving better quality food or washing a few extra dishes, but Abraham still had plenty of time to tend to his flocks.
It’s the Action that Counts
For many years I assuaged my conscience by telling my Mom I thought about her often, even though I seldom picked up the telephone. When I did call her she would ask me why I didn’t call her, to which I responded, “I’m calling you now. Isn’t that good enough?”
It took me years to realize my Mother was telling me she desired regular communication to create a closer relationship. I always thought it would take too much time. But with telephone, email, and text messages I’m in daily contact without any burden on my time.
Every other consideration pales into insignificance when you base a friendship on the other person’s priority. Send him an article about his favorite sports team, make an effort to thank her, or just briefly touch base periodically. Small deeds make all the difference.
Question – In what little ways do you maintain a friendship?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!