Linda Pardes Friedburg
Russian-speaking American Israeli Community-building Mom

Parshat Vayera – Going Beyond Ourselves

Moonrise over Neve Daniel, night after commemoration of Kristallnacht (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

“And God appeared to him in Alonei Mamre…” (Breishit18:1)
“וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְהוָה בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם.” (בראשית יח:א)

Abraham is a paradigm of going beyond one’s comfort zone, and this is why God appears to him. He is a seeker of meaning, justice, connection and truth and cannot sit comfortably at home – even on the third, most painful day after his Brit Mila, according to the Midrash, he searches for guests in the heat of the day to bring into his tent.

This is true in our lives as well. We feel most fulfilled when we go beyond ourselves – when we invite others into our home, work to correct a wrong, give tzedaka with a full heart, or speak kindly in a moment of anger.  When we pray for a friend’s well-being, when we make efforts to create shidduchim, or give time to someone in need.

God definitely meets us in these moments; our love for people is the highest expression of our love for God and our tzelem Elokim – our most refined inner selves.

I thought about this Wednesday night when shuls in Neve Daniel and around the world were lit up all night long commemorating Kristallnacht.

Our efforts to do Kiddush Hashem through increasing good and keeping our faith, above and beyond, are the continuing light.

And for this we feel His continued blessing, as He blessed Abraham, after the ultimate trial of the Akeidah, when he went beyond himself out of his love for God:

“כִּי-בָרֵךְ אֲבָרֶכְךָ וְהַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה אֶת-זַרְעֲךָ… וְהִתְבָּרְכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ עֵקֶב אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקֹלִי. ” (בראשית כב)
“And I will bless those who bless you and greatly multiply your seed…and all the nations of the world will be blessed through your children, because you heeded my voice.” (Breishit 22)

Shabbat shalom!

About the Author
Linda Pardes Friedburg made Aliyah from New Jersey in 1990. She is Founding Director of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli National Jewish Leadership Initiative for Young Russian-Speaking Israelis, is grateful for her six kids and one Belarussian husband, and still feels the need to pinch herself every time she drives up the hill to Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion, their home since 1994. OLIM FOR TZAHAL
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