Reluctant prophet

This week's portion: radical hospitality

This week we're reading parashat Vayera, which contains several really powerful stories. Here we have Abraham arguing with God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and those cities' eventual downfall anyway. Here, too, are the unlikely birth of Isaac, the casting-out of Hagar and Ishmael, and the akedah (binding of Isaac.) These are some tremendously resonant and problematic texts.

I didn't focus in any of these directions in my d'var this week for Radical Torah, though. Instead, I wrote about the very beginning of the portion: the hospitality of Abraham.

The chuppah beneath which Jews marry is typically open on all four sides, and one teaching holds that in this it evokes Abraham's tent. A chuppah offers spiritual shelter, and represents the home a couple will build together, but it's not a permanent structure, nor a structure that can be entirely insular. The sense of home it represents and creates is a portable one, and one that's open to the presence of God in all directions. When we marry beneath a chuppah, we affirm our intention to be like Abraham, opening our doors and our larders to the messengers of God who appear in our lives.

Read the whole thing here: Radical hospitality.

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