Shabbat Parshat Vayera 5775–Shabbat Torah Study–Can we find purpose in adversity? Meaning? Opportunity?

You may have parsed this week’s Torah portion—or at least one of its highlights– more than any other in the Torah. You see it is the Parsha that contains the Torah Reading for Rosh Hashanah.

But Vayera contains so much more than the story of the Binding of Isaac. It offers the story of the annunciation (Sarah will have a child), the evil and destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah (after Abraham’s unsuccessful negotiation), the incest of Lot and his daughters, Avimelech and Sara (“say you are my sister”), the birth of Isaac, the exile of Hagar and Ishmael and of the Binding of Isaac.

We can derive many profound lessons from each of these episodes. Can you think of at least one from each? Some are easier to ferret out than others and the Sages use Midrash to help.

Even the most difficult and challenging stories in the Torah are given purpose and meaning. Our Torah does not pull any punches. It gives the bad and the ugly too. Our heroes are not perfect and we are not expected to be either. When facing adversity, we can still make wise choices. When we experience adversity, we can grow.

Abraham is said to have been tested with ten different challenges. Did God not know whether Abraham would pass each test? That was not the point. It is that through life’s challenges we grow. Abraham grew as a result of these challenges to become the Father of our People—Avraham Avinu. We cannot always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react or respond.

This Shabbat we learn with Melissa Ser, PhD., our Director of Congregational Learning. 9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul

P.S. Remember to make your reservations and plans to participate in our kick off SYNergy Weekend November 14th – 15th with scholar, and professor of Jewish History, noted author, dynamic speaker and lecturer Dr. Benjamin Gampel from JTS.

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