Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” — 2 Kings 4:3–4
The Torah portion for this week is Vayeira, which means “and he appeared,” from Genesis 18:1—22:24, and the Haftorah is from 2 Kings 4:1–37.
In this week’s Torah portion, when Sarah laughed in disbelief after hearing that she would bear a child, God posed the question: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). In this week’s Haftorah reading, we see that, indeed, nothing is too hard for the LORD; there is nothing He can’t do.
This week’s reading contains two stories. In the first, a woman, who the Jewish sages traditionally identify as the prophet Obadiah’s wife, appeared before the prophet Elisha with a grave concern. Her husband had passed away, leaving her with a huge debt, and the lender was demanding her two sons as payment. (Incidentally, the sages teach that Obadiah had taken on such debt in order to hide and sustain the prophets of God whom King Ahab was trying to destroy.)
Now Obadiah was gone, and the debt needed to be paid. Elisha instructed the woman to gather all the empty vessels that she possibly could and to pour oil from her one remaining oil vessel into all the other jars. Miraculously, the oil kept flowing until every vessel was filled to the brim. The woman then sold the oil and repaid her debt.
In the second story, a woman who had been immensely hospitable to Elisha was promised a son. The son was miraculously born to the previously barren woman, but a few years later, the child died. The woman traveled to Elisha to tell him about her son, and he returned to the woman’s house, where he revived the dead boy. Miraculously, the boy lived again.
Tradition teaches that God holds the key for three things that man has no control over — childbirth, sustenance, and the resurrection of the dead. In these stories we see that God is able to override nature in order to make these things come about. Indeed, there is nothing that God can’t do.
But what caused God to bring about such great miracles?
The sages teach that the faith of these women brought about these miracles. Similarly, it was the faith of the children of Israel that led God to part the sea when they left Egypt, even though the people themselves were not yet righteous. In Psalm 37:3 we read, “Trust in the LORD and do good.” The sages note that a person does not have to do good first and then trust in God for miracles. We can trust God even before we have done good — trust alone will bring forth miracles!
What can you trust God for today? Just as God performed miracles for the widow, the barren woman, and the children of Israel, He can and will do miracles for all who trust Him today.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President