To See and Be Seen
There’s just something about Parshas Vayera. I’m writing this way too late on Wednesday night and I look back at my original parshah post from two years ago and see: “When it's after 3:00 a.m. and you have creative block, but still want to keep your word to yourself, you upload something you're not happy with...” Thank G-d, I must have improved my sleeping habits a lot in the last couple of years because I’ve still got a couple of hours to go before I hit that post 3:00 a.m. witching hour, and yet I am more than ready to hit the sack.
Well, as they say, "מאן טראכט און גאט לאכט"
Our parshah is known as “Vayera” – “and He (G-d) appeared” because even though Hashem had appeared to Avrohom Avinu a few times in the previous parshah, there’s a different element and a different level here. In last week’s parshah, Lech Lecha, Rashi mentioned that Avrohom fell on his face when hearing the word of G-d because he was not yet circumcised and so couldn’t handle such a revelation. The parshah then concluded with Avrohom Avinu’s circumcision. When Hashem appears to Avrohom here, at the very beginning of the parshah, it’s a much more open and straightforward revelation, like a visit to a convalescent friend.
So why the big change? All his life, Avrohom kept all the Torah’s commandments even though he had no obligation to. Yet when Hashem told him to perform a bris milah and circumcise himself, he was fulfilling a mitzvah on an entirely new level. He wasn’t doing it simply because he wanted to, but rather because G-d told him to. As he followed a direct order from G-d, he nullified his own sense of self and dissolved the last traces of ego that had stood between him and the Divine Presence.
(Loosely summarized from the Kehot Chumash)