This week’s portion, Chayei Sara, honors our two sages and prophets, Abraham and Sara. It opens with Sara passing on and ends with Abraham passing. We are reminded that these two great people are who set the stage for the world’s first ideas of Monotheism of a loving, just G-d and kindness and respect to all.
So that’s it, that’s the sermon.
Really, we could just leave it there. But let’s dive in and see just what made the two so great. Consider that Abraham used to sit outside his tent in his free time waiting for travelers to whom he could play host. Thus the beginning of the last portion when the angels came by. Abraham was waiting to play host even though he was still recovering from his circumcision. Consider that he did this in a world in which aliens were mistreated to the point of being murdered. Sara, of course, rushed to gather up food to serve them as well.
When G-d came to Abraham to tell him of the impending demise of Sodom and Gemorrah, he pleaded for mercy for them, knowing full well who these people were. He felt that if there were but at least ten righteous people, they should be spared. He even had the affrontery to confront Hashem, such was his feelings of compassion.
Abraham also stood up for what was right as well and was loyal. When his nephew Lot got in the middle of a war and was taken captive, he rounded up his men and went after him. He showed his fierceness in battle and resolve to do what was right.
Sara was always right behind him. True, she isn’t mentioned as much, but it is taken for granted that she, too, had the same qualities. She believed as he did as is evidenced by this incident of serving the guests.
We would do well to follow his example. We live in a world where fear-mongering has reared its ugly head. It’s become “us” vs. “them”. If you’re not “us”, you’re “them” and not welcome. Contrast this to Abraham welcoming strangers with hospitality to the point where it’s become a commandment to honor the stranger.
We live in a world of bigotry as well. We are all still recovering as the horrific killing of our brothers and sisters in Pittsburg who did nothing more than follow in the ways of Abraham and express their heritage and culture of honoring the one, true G-d. They followed in Abraham’s footsteps.
Abraham had an un-dying faith. Hashem told him to leave his home of paganry and set out. No planned goal, no specific destination, just go. And did without question. As a result, Abraham became very wealthy. But he was always sharing.
But he always shared and thought of others. When his and Lot’s servants fought and they decided the best way to handle this was to separate, he let Lot pick his place first. Even though Abraham was the elder and by custom should have got the right of first refusal, he deferred.
How would Abraham have handled this recent killing of Jews observing the Sabbat? Certainly he would have mourned and lamented that people feel that way. He would also make sure that his people were protected against future attacks.
Maybe he would also try to reach out to those who may have similar budding feelings. Perhaps he would invite them in to his tent and offer his hospitality. Perhaps he would show them just what a mensch is that while we have our faults, all we really want is peace and for all humankind to live together under the blessings of Hashem. Perhaps he, and Sara, would pray that they find peace as well.
Perhaps Sara, being the more realistic one, may have seen that some of these people are irredeemable and want them away. Perhaps she would feel that it’s more important, after seeing some of their behavior, that they not be around us. She seemed to be a safety first type of person.