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The Heat of the Day - וירא

Thursday, 25 October, 2018 - 10:48 pm

The Heat of the Day

The story of Abraham’s life is primarily told in two portions of the Torah. Lech Licha and Vayera. In the first portion of Abraham's story, Abraham comes across as a deeply spiritual person. The Torah tells how he traveled the land and of the altars he built for  G-d in every place that he went. Toward the end of the first portion, G-d introduced a new idea to Abraham. No longer would it suffice for Abraham to be a spiritual person. From now on, Abraham task was to connect the spiritual with the physical. Abraham was commanded to circumcise himself, fulfilling G-d's commandment “my covenant will be in your flesh”. From here on Abraham’s mission was to teach how the spiritual covenant must express itself in the tangible physical world.

The second portion, Vayera, opens with Abraham, on the third day after his circumcision, sitting at the opening of his tent seeking guests. It was an exceedingly hot day and there was no one in sight, yet Abraham sat there, waiting and hoping to find someone to invite into his home. As the Torah tells us:

Now the Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mamre, and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot.

And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground.

The opening phrase is “the Lord appeared to him”. As a result of this Divine revelation Abraham reached a greater expression of kindness to others. Typically a kind person will express kindness when he or she sees someone in need, or at least someone who can receive the kindness. In this scene Abraham reaches a new level of kindness. Abraham was sitting at the opening of his tent looking to express kindness even when there was no one in sight who was in need of kindness. Abraham’s heart was overflowing with love. For The more Abraham experienced the presence of G-d the more he sought to share with others, the more he transcended himself and sought to connect and to share with other people.[1] 

The verse continues “and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot.” the literal translation of the verse is that “and he was sitting  at the entrance of the tent like the heat of the day”. The verse does not read “in the heat of the day”, but rather it says “like the heat of the day”.The verse implies that Abraham himself was like the “heat of the day”.[2] Abraham himself was like the sun spreading warmth, love and enlightenment.

Many spiritual seekers seek to escape worldly distractions and seek enlightenment in solitude. The more enlightenment they experience the more removed they become from the rest of society. But Abraham taught us to realize that the closer one comes to spirituality, holiness and transcendence, the more the person will “sit at the opening of the tent”, seeking to express kindness even when the need is not immediately present before him or her. The closer one become to G-d the the more he or she  will be “like the heat of the day”, like the sun, expressing warmth and friendship to all.

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[1] Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Vayera 5725.

[2] See commentary of the Kli Yakar.

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