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[Dvar Torah] Vayera

In this week's Parsha Vayera, we see one of the most significant parts of the Torah: G-d finally reveals himself to Abraham three days after Avraham undergoes the first circumcision at the age of 99. Abraham, rather than sitting and healing, prepares a meal for three guests who he sees appear on the horizon of the desert's heat. The guests say to Abraham that his spouse Sarah will give birth to a son. As Sarah hears this she lauighs out loud as she is 89 years old. 

The promise that G-d gave to Sarah was remembered and G-d gave her and Abraham a son. At the age of ninety and one hundred respectively, Sarah and Abraham have a baby boy who is named Isaac. G-d later tests Abraham's devotion by commanding him to sacrifice his newborn son Isaac on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. As Abraham places Isaac on the altar to sacrifice him, he raises the knife to slaughter his son, but at the last moment a voice from heaven calls him to stop. 

One of the interesting stories in this Parsha is the one about the wicked city of Sodom. G-d gives advance notice to Abraham that Sodom has a reputation for wickedness and therefore should be eliminated. Abraham asks G-d "Will you sweep away the righteous together with the wicked?" (Genesis 18:23) And so Abraham negotiates with G-d to spare Sodom if 10 righteous people can be found, but this does not happen. If there are not even 10 good people in a large town, how much hope is there for the rest of humanity? 
G-d sends two angels to destroy Sodom and save Lot. Lot, the relatively righteous nephew of Abraham who settled in Sodom, welcomes them into his home, but all the men of the town surround the house and demand that he surrender the visitors so that they may harm them. Lot offers the mob his daughters (!) to "do to them as you please", but they refuse and threaten to do worse to Lot. 
The angels tell Lot "...the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it" (Genesis 19:13). The next morning, the angels take Lot, Lot's wife, and his two daughters by the hand and out of the city, and tell him to flee to the hills. Then G-d causes sulfur and fire to rain on Sodom and Gomorrah, “all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities” (Genesis 19:24–25). Lot and his two daughters are saved, but his wife disregards the angels' warning, looks back, and is turned into a pillar of salt.
Lot’s wife physically left Sodom but looking back to the wicked city showed she was mentally still there. She did not truly want to leave the culture of Sodom behind. Last week In the Parsha, Salomé explained how Abraham taught us that we sometimes need to make a leap of faith, leave our past behind, in order to start something new, to begin a fresh start. Lot’s wife did not learn that lesson. She couldn’t make that leap from the past and therefore, like the city of Sodom itself, had no future.

Even though we live in an uncertain present, it is always better to look forward rather than stay stuck in the past. I encourage all of us, if we are feeling stressed or uncertain about anything concerning us, to look forward rather than backwards; look for opportunities; listen and reach out to people whether they be friends, family or teachers for guidance and support. The past is there to learn from: it is to the future that we should set our sights.

Shabbat shalom!

Gabriel, Grade 11