Being Like GodOctober 30, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.”—Genesis 18:2
The Torah portion for this week, Vayeira, is from Genesis 18:1—22:24 and 2 Kings 4:1–37.
When the Torah portion begins, Abraham had just circumcised himself. God made a house call and visited the recovering Abraham. But did He find Abraham resting in bed? No! God found him sitting in the same place where he sat every day — at the entrance of his tent eagerly awaiting guests. “The LORD appeared to Abraham… while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent” (Genesis 18:1). For Abraham, the pain of circumcision was nothing compared to the pain of not having guests.
So God sent Abraham three guests — three angels disguised as men. In the next verse we read that Abraham saw the men and ran to greet them. “When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them . . . .” But wait, didn’t we just read that God appeared to Abraham? Did we not understand that Abraham was in the middle of a conversation with God?
If you could speak to one person in the world, living or dead, who would that person be? Now imagine that your hero calls you up one day and you get to have that conversation. Suddenly, you see three strangers standing in your front yard and you say, “Can you hold on? There are some guys hanging out nearby, I’ll get back to you later!”
Sounds ridiculous? But that’s exactly what Abraham did! He had the audience of the Master of the world, but as soon as he saw the strangers outside, he drops the line. Can you imagine doing such a thing – and why would Abraham do it?
Because Abraham understood that even as we talk to God, He continues to give us opportunities (and yes, challenges), to be ever closer to Him.
As we are told from the very beginning, humans were created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). The intention for humanity is that we would be God-like. And so the greatest thing we can do is to be like our Creator.
How can we be like God? The Sages offer some advice: “Just as the Lord clothes the naked as He did with Adam, so you clothe the naked; just as the Lord visits the sick as He did with Abraham, so you visit the sick; just as the Lord comforts the bereaved as He did with Isaac, so you comfort the bereaved; just as the Lord buries the dead as he did with Moses, so you bury the dead.”
Look to fit in at least one godly act a week. Visit a sick friend, the elderly, or a hospital. Donate some clothing or work in a soup kitchen. Support someone going through a difficult time or be a companion for someone lonely. And when an unexpected opportunity for kindness comes your way, be like Abraham – run to do it!