Monday, November 10, 2008

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah Parashas Vayera 5769

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah
Parashas Vayera 5769


The Medrash

The Medrash states that it is said (Bereishis 18:1) vayera eilav HaShem bielonei mamre vihu yosehiv Pesach haohel (kichom hayom) HaShem appeared to him in the plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day. It is said (Tehillim 18:36) vatiten li magen yishecho vimincho sisadeini vianvascha tarbeini, You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has supported me, and You have treated me with great humility. The words vatiten li magen yishecho refers to Avraham. The words vimincho sisadeini refers to Avraham being saved from the fiery furnace, the famine and the battle with the kings. The words vianvascho tarbeini teaches us that HaShem, so to speak, bestowed Avraham with humility. Avraham was sitting and HaShem, so to speak, was standing. This is what is meant when it is said vayera eilav HaShem.

Question on the Medrash

Why did HaShem allow Avraham to sit while the Divine Presence, so to speak, was standing? Furthermore, why did HaShem demonstrate His humility, so to speak, specifically after Avraham had circumcised himself?

The deeper intention of the Medrash

The Medrash understands that when Avraham circumcised himself, he was undergoing a tremendous sacrifice. In addition to the physical discomfort, Avraham was also going “against the grain,” as it was not considered fashionable in those times to be circumcised. When a Jew acts in a manner that is beyond the laws of nature, HaShem responds in kind. The prophets usually portray HaShem as sitting on His Throne of Glory. When a Jew acts in a manner that goes beyond the laws of nature, however, HaShem, so to speak, descends from His Throne of Glory, and meets the person at his level. This idea is reflected in the Gemara (Megillah 31a) that states that where one finds HaShem’s Greatness, one finds His humility. When Avraham circumcised himself, HaShem viewed this as an act of greatness, and HaShem, so to speak, descended from His level of greatness and humbled Himself to stand, so to speak, before Avraham.

The lesson of the Medrash

We must learn from HaShem’s ways and stand in awe of those who perform acts of greatness. In truth, every second that one is cognizant of HaShem’s Presence in our lives is an act of greatness. Thus, it behooves us to respect every person who we observe following in the ways of HaShem.

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