Parshas Vayeira Sweets and Treats
This week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayeira, picks up our story with Avraham three days after his bris milah, circumcision. In the heat of the day, Avraham is recovering in his famous tent with doors facing all directions to welcome guests when three angels, disguised as men, arrive. Avraham quickly welcomes them and offers to wash their feet and give them shade under a tree while he asks Sarah to prepare a meal for them. Each of the angels have a purpose in their visit: one to heal Avraham, one to let them know that in one year, Sarah would have a son, and the last to destroy Sodom. When Sarah hears the angel’s foretelling of her having a baby at the age of 89, she laughs.
Avraham pleads with Hashem to spare the people living in the wicked city of Sodom. Avraham bargains with Hashem, “If there are 50 righteous people in the land, will you spare them? 45? 40?” He continues all the way down to ten, but Hashem is unable to find even ten righteous people in the city.
Two of the angels travel to Sodom to save Avraham’s nephew, Lot, his wife and two daughers from the destruction of their city. As they flee, they are instructed not to look back at the burning city of Sodom. Lot’s wife cannot resist and looks back. She is turned into a pillar of salt.
Lot and his daughters settle in a cave, believing they are the only survivors alive in the world. Lot’s daughters reason that they must have children with their father in order to perpetuate the human race. They each give birth to a son, Amon and Moav.
Avraham moves to Gerar, where King Avimelech takes Sarah, who posed as Avraham’s sister. Avimelech is warned in a dream to return Sarah to her husband or face death. Avimelech sends Avraham and Sarah away with many riches and a guarantee that they will be safe in any area of the land they wish to settle in.
When Avraham and Sarah are 100 and 90 years old respectively, Sarah gives birth to a son named Yitzchak (Isaac), which means “will laugh.” Yitzchak is the first baby to have a bris milah on the eighth day after his birth. As Yitzchak grows older, Sarah is concerned about the influence of Yishmael, Avraham and Hagar’s son. They are sent away from Avraham’s home and wander in the desert. When they have finished all their water, Hagar moves away from her son and cries, not wanting to watch him die of thirst. Hashem hears Yishmael’s cries as he is dying and saves his life by revealing a well to his mother. Hashem promises that Yishmael will be the father of a great nation.
The parsha concludes with the tenth and final test of Avraham, Akeidas Yitzchak (the binding of Isaac). Hashem tells Avraham to take his long awaited son, Yitzchak, and sacrifice him on an altar on Har HaMoriah (which is later the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem). Avraham does as he is told and ties Yitzchak up on the altar, ready to sacrifice him. Just as he holds the knife over Yitzchak, and (according to the Midrash) tears fall from his eyes and the eyes of the angels watching above blinding Yitzchak, Hashem calls out to Avraham and tells him not to slaughter his son. Avraham sacrifices a ram instead and names the place “Hashem Yireh” – the place where G-d is seen. According to the Midrash, Hashem combined the location’s original name given by Shem (the son of Noah), Shalem, and the new name Avraham gave it, into the name we know the city as today, Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). The parsha ends with Avraham being informed about the birth of nieces and nephews to his brother Nachor, including his great-niece Rivka (who would eventually be the wife of Yitzchak).
This parsha is full of different parsha treat ideas! The candy feet symbolize the three guests who walk by Avraham’s tent, whose feet are washed as soon as they arrive. The Laffy Taffy symbolize Sarah’s laughter when she heard that she would have a son and the name of Yitzchak, which literally means “will laugh.” The bubble monsters could symbolize the guests as well as the bargaining that Avraham attempts with G-d to save Sodom if there are at least even ten righteous people there. The Atomic Fireballs symbolize the heat of the day as Avraham waited for guests (even though he was recovering from a painful procedure!) and the fire that destroyed Sodom. Rock candy sticks might look like the pillar of salt that Lot’s wife became when she turned to look back at the burning city of Sodom. Cry babies (sour bubble gum) symbolize the different times we are told about tears in the parsha, those of Hagar and Yishmael, as well as those of Avraham and the angels (according to the Midrash) during Akeidas Yitzchak. Finally the pacifiers symbolize the babies born in this week’s parsha, including Yitzchak, Amon, Moav and eventually the nieces and nephews of Avraham, including Yitzchak’s future wife, Rivka. Please share your ideas in the comments below!