Recommended Posts

Vayeira: Seeing and Seeing

When the verse (Vayeira 18:2) describes Abraham seeing the three men -or angels-, it repeats the expression “and he saw” twice. Rashi explains it as follows:The first expression “and he saw” is to be understood literally. The second denotes understanding. He “saw” that they were standing in one place, and he “understood” that they did not want to trouble him. And although they knew that he would come out toward them, they stood in their place out of respect for him, to show him that they did not want to trouble him. Then he went forward and ran toward them.
This seems puzzling. Were they playing some sort of charade? Rashi comments on the previous verse that God had made the day especially hot so as not to burden Abraham with guests being that he had to recover from his circumcision. However, seeing that Abraham was upset because guests were not coming, He brought the angels to him.

Therefore, if the very reason the angels were there was to give Abraham the opportunity to receive them, why would they “stand in one place”, afraid to trouble him? And if they knew that he would come out towards them, wasn’t what they did counter-productive? Instead of sparing him the effort, they made it necessary!

Abraham didn’t simply want the opportunity to receive guests to come knocking at his door. He understood that although God may be custom-designing the opportunity to fit his yearning, he still had to get up and go get it.
The angels knew this as well. There was no game. They stood in one place “out of respect for him”; not a commiserating respect for Abraham’s physical suffering, but the kind of respect he commanded by his total commitment to see life as a constant quest for growth. They realized that allowing Abraham to express himself through this quest was more important than protecting him from physical exertion.


We all “see” opportunities that God places within our reach, we have our own angels walking towards our tent; opportunities that could change who we are and carry us to new levels. What we must realize is that we need the double-take of Abraham. We need the second “seeing” to understand that it is up to us to bridge the gap that separates us from the opportunity at hand and run to grab it.

Go Back to Previous Page

  • Other visitors also read