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Being Like God

Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. — Genesis 18:2

The Torah portion for this week, Vayeira, which means “and he appeared” is from Genesis 18:1—22:24, and the Haftorah is from 2 Kings 4:1–37.

When the Torah portion begins, Abraham had just circumcised himself. God made a house call and visited the recovering Abraham. But did He find Abraham resting in bed? No! God found him sitting in the same place where he sat every day — at the entrance of his tent eagerly awaiting guests. “The LORD appeared to Abraham while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent” (Genesis 18:1). For Abraham, the pain of circumcision was nothing compared to the pain of not having guests.

So God sent Abraham three guests — three angels disguised as men. In the next verse we read that Abraham saw the men and ran to greet them. “When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them . . . .” But wait a second! Didn’t we just read that God appeared to Abraham? Wasn’t Abraham in the middle of a conversation with God?

If you could speak to one person in the world, living or dead, who would that person be? Now imagine that this hero of yours calls you up one day and you get to have that conversation. Suddenly, you see three strangers pass by and you say, “Can you hold on? There are some people walking by. I’ll get back to you later!”

Sounds ridiculous? But that’s exactly what Abraham did! He had the audience of the Master of the Universe, but as soon as he saw the strangers outside, he dropped the line like a hot potato! Why would Abraham do such a thing?

The answer is because Abraham understood that there is something even greater than talking to God — it’s being like God.

As we are told from the very beginning, humans were created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). The intention for humanity is that we would be God-like. And so the greatest thing we can do is to be like our Creator. 

How can we be like God? The Jewish sages offer some advice: "Just as the Lord clothes the naked as He did with Adam, so you clothe the naked; just as the Lord visits the sick as He did with Abraham, so you visit the sick; just as the Lord comforts the bereaved as He did with Isaac, so you comfort the bereaved; just as the Lord buries the dead as he did with Moses, so you bury the dead."

Let’s consider how we can perform at least one godly act a week. Visit a sick friend, the elderly, or a hospital. Donate some clothing or work in a soup kitchen. Support someone going through a difficult time or be a companion for someone lonely. And when an unexpected opportunity for kindness comes your way, be like Abraham – run to do it!

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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November 15, 2016
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