Say Hineini and Mean It

Having gotten a good deal of positive feedback from my post last week on life lessons from the weekly Torah parasha, I thought I might try a run looking to see in the portion what looks back at me! A very nice exercise for myself, and I hope a valuable gift for those reading.  Shabbat shalom!

Little lessons from Parashat Vayeira:

Enjoy the shade of a good tree. (Genesis 18:1): “The Eternal appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre as he [Abraham] was sitting at the entrance of the tent at about the hottest time of the day.”   As he was recovering from his circumcision, Abraham enjoyed the beauty of nature, looking beyond his own condition.  It brought him peace and healing, and ultimately changed his life. 

Welcome strangers into your life. (Genesis 18: “Looking up, he saw three men standing opposite him. Seeing them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowing down to the ground, he said ‘My lords, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.” – Look up, get out of your own way, and open yourself to new people. You never know how they may change the way that your life unfolds.

Be honest with yourself; God knows your heart. (Genesis 18: 12, 15): “So Sarah laughed inwardly, thinking: ‘Now that I am withered, will I have pleasure, with my lord so old!’….Sarah then denied it, for she was afraid, and said ‘I did not laugh’, but God said, ‘Ah, but you did laugh!’”  You can run but you can’t hide.  When you can live honestly with yourself, you will see life much more clearly.

Watch your words.  (Genesis 18:13): “But the Eternal One said to Abraham, ‘Why is Sarah laughing so, thinking: Am I really going to bear a child, when I have grown so old?’” God changed Sarah’s words so as to prevent Abraham from feeling ashamed.  Honesty has integrity only when it preserves dignity.

Life is a series of tests.  (Genesis 22:1) “After these things, God tested Abraham, saying to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”  Life isn’t pass/fail; rather your performance on each test that comes your way determines what you will face next. Just give your best and most honest effort each time.

Don’t just say ‘Hineini’ – ‘I am here’.  (Genesis 22:7): “Isaac then said to Abraham his father, ‘Father!’ He answered, ‘I am here, my son.’”  Be here, now. Have you ever thought about the paradox of a roll call?  It is an instance at which time we take the moment to ask others, and ourselves, if we are present.   Yet, the answer that is often typically given or received to indicate our presence – merely ‘Here’ – ironically indicates our complete absence.  Be present; say it like you mean it.


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