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Weekly Parsha Summary

Hashem reveals Himself to Avraham three days after the first Jew’s circumcision at age ninety-nine; but Avraham rushes off to prepare a meal for three guests who appear in the desert heat. One of the three—who are angels disguised as men—announces that, in exactly one year, the barren Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah laughs.

Avraham pleads with Hashem to spare the wicked city of Sdom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive in the doomed city, where Avraham’s nephew Lot extends his hospitality to them and protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to overturn the place, and to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys the command not to look back at the burning city as they flee.

While taking shelter in a cave, Lot’s two daughters (believing that they and their father are the only ones left alive in the world) get their father drunk, and become pregnant. The two sons born from this incident father the nations of Moav and Ammon.

Avraham moves to Gerar, where the Philistine king Avimelech takes Sarah—who is presented as Avraham’s sister—to his palace. In a dream, Hashem warns Avimelech that he will die unless he returns the woman to her husband. Avraham explains that he feared he would be killed over the beautiful Sarah.

Hashem remembers His promise to Sarah, and gives her and Avraham a son, who is named Yitzchak, (meaning “will laugh”). Yitzchak is circumcised at the age of eight days; Avraham is one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, at their child’s birth.

Hagar and Ishmael are banished from Avraham’s home and wander in the desert; Hashem hears the cry of the dying lad, and saves his life by showing his mother a well. Avimelech makes a treaty with Avraham at Beer sheva, where Avraham gives him seven sheep as a sign of their truce.

G-d tests Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah(the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Isaac is bound and placed on the altar, and Abraham raises the knife to slaughter his son. A voice from heaven calls to stop him; a ram, caught in the undergrowth by its horns, is offered in Isaac’s place. Abraham receives the news of the birth of a daughter, Rebecca, to his nephew Bethuel.

Rabbi's Shabbos Message

A Mitzva requires thought

“On the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and perceived the place from afar” The  Ramban at the end of this week’s parsha (Bereishis 22:2) asks: why did Hashem, when commanding Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchok, order him to travel to a place three days away? Why could he have not simply have said, “Do it here and now”? After all, we see that everything that Avraham did was with zerizus (zealousness and speed), why make him wait it out for three days?

One of the answers the Ramban gives is that while it is true that Avraham would have done it immediately, Hashem wanted the three day delay for Avraham’s sake. He wanted Avraham to take the time to contemplate the mitzvah that he was to do.

Another answer is that we learn from here a better definition of zerizus. We usually think that doing a mitzvah with zerizus means, doing it with alacrity. However, there is also an issue of deeper thought as well. When we perform a mitzvah, quickly and without much thought, it’s as if we are trying to get it out of our way. Taking the time to contemplate the mitzvah, in no way contradicts the idea that we should do mitzvahs with alacrity and zealousness; rather it is an integral part of the definition of zerizus and should not be overlooked.

Have a great Shabbos!