Rabbi Sherman's Weekly Torah Commentary
November 15 & 16, 2019 Parashat Vayera 18 Cheshvan 5780
Just a few weeks ago, on our second day observance of Rosh Hashana, we read the story of the Akeidah—the binding of Isaac. We return to this story this week in our Torah portion, Parashat Vayera. God orders Abraham to take his precious son Isaac and sacrifice him there on the top of Mount Moriah. The story climaxes when Abraham hears a voice cry out, saying, “Stop. Don’t do it.” A ram appears nearby. Abraham sacrifices the ram instead of his son and we, the readers, breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Who told Abraham to stop? The text tells us it was an angel of God. But who was this angel? Was it a voice inside Abraham’s head? Perhaps it was his conscience, the voice of reason? Or could that voice have come from somewhere else?
A modern commentary wonders if that voice might have been the voice of Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. Perhaps it was Sarah’s voice saying “Stop! Don’t hurt our son!” Modern commentator Karen Soria offers this as a possible explanation—that Sarah cried out to save her son, and Abraham heard that cry as the voice of an angel, or the voice of God.
In First Kings, we read of another voice offering comfort. In this story, the prophet Elijah hears a “kol demama daka” – a still, small voice. For Elijah, this voice of God speaks louder than the wind, earthquake and fire that preceded it. And he only heard it because he was truly listening.
Maybe we’ve had times when we’ve heard a voice telling us what to do. When faced with a difficult choice, a voice from within or from without came to protect or to save us. And when that voice spoke, did we ignore it or disregard it? Or did we trust it? Were we truly listening?
Questions for Reflection:
1. Have you ever heard a voice telling you what to do? Was it gentle or forceful?
2. Did you ignore it or trust it? Where did you think the voice was coming from?
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We will welcome Shabbat with the lighting of Shabbat lights in the synagogue at 4:20 PM and at 4:30 PM in the dining room, followed by kiddush and motzi at 5:30 PM. Please note time change due to the return to Standard Daylight Time. Our Shabbat evening service will begin in the synagogue at 6:30 PM. Oneg Shabbat following the service will be in the Pavilion. Our Shabbat morning service will begin at We will hold our Shabbat morning service at 9:30 AM in the synagogue, followed by kiddush and motzi in the dining room.
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Sherman