First have something to eat..

Friday, 18 November, 2016 - 7:51 am


Dear Friends,

This week I want to share with you a beautiful commentary on the Parasha that I heard last week during the “Shabbat together” meal, from the young and gifted rabbi of the larger Basel community, my friend, Rabbi Moshe Baumel.

When Avraham reached the land of Canaan and began to work on convincing people to believe in what he believed in – one G-d, or monotheism – he built an altar to Hashem in every significant place he reached. In Parashat Lech Lecha we read of three altars that he built: one in Elon Moreh, in other words in Shechem; another between Shechem and Hevron, where the settlement of Beit El is today; and the third, after he returned from Egypt, in Elonei Mamre, which is identical with Hevron.

He built altars, brought sacrifices, invoked Hashem’s Name everywhere, but it didn’t really change anything. He invoked Hashem’s Name, but the rest of the world didn’t join him. Everywhere he went, the first thing people wanted to know was how beautiful his wife was, and was she his wife or his sister. Hashem was the G-d, but not yet “El Olam” – not yet recognized by the world as such.

Only at the end of Parashat Vayera, after the unpleasant incident with Avimelech, who took Sarah, and after the tragedy of Sodom and Amorah – only then did Avraham do something different. Today we would say that he was recalculating his route. He started thinking outside the box of altars, and the Torah tells us that he reached Beer Sheva and planted an Eshel there. Our Sages explain that the Eshel was not a tree, but rather an inn where people could rest, eat and drink. Indeed, in Hebrew the word Eshel is the acronym for Achilah (eating), Shetiyah (drinking) and Linah (sleeping). And then – surprisingly enough, it was there, where instead of building an altar he simply provided people with a good meal, something to drink and a bed to rest on, that he started to influence the world, as it says, there, “And he planted an Eshel in Beer Sheva and he invoked there the name of Hashem El Olam.”

As my grandmother used to say: “First sit and have something to eat, and then we’ll hear what you have to say.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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