Image: Arial view of the Temple Mount in 2007. (Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons)
Parashat Vayera is dense with rich narrative. The portion is packed with famous stories: Abraham’s hospitality, Sarah’s laughter, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s Wife, the birth of Isaac, Sarah’s treatment of Hagar, and the binding of Isaac. We may think we know the stories, but every year there is something to surprise us.
One item caught my eye this year. After Abraham “lifts up his eyes” at the behest of the heavenly voice, he names the place Adonai yireh, “God will see.” Rashi informs us that:
At the beginning of the Abraham narrative, God tells Abraham to go to a place that God would show him. At the beginning of the Binding of Isaac, again, God says “Go to the place I will show you.” Then, when Abraham has finally reached that place, the high point of his story, literally the “high place” of the narrative, Abraham names the place “God will see.” This marks the centrality of this spot for Abraham’s descendants. This is the mount where the Temple will be built. This is the spot towards which we face for prayer even today.
God will show Abraham the place, then Abraham sees it.
Abraham lifts up his eyes, and “God will see.”
What does God show us, and what do we see?
Is our seeing entwined with God seeing?
Let’s see what our online darshanim have to say about Parashat Vayera:
Mother of Two – Rabbi Eve Posen
How Does God Appear in the World? – Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
The Rush of Resilience; Loving More than Yourself– Rabbi David Evon Markus
Harnessing Holiness – Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi
The Story of Isaac, in memory of Leonard Cohen z”l – Rabbi Dan Fink
The Miracle of a Child – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
The Care of Visitors – Rabbi Ruth Adar