Teaching Torah* points out several Jewish values which are exhibited in this troubling portion.
— Bikur Cholim [visiting the sick]: God and/or messengers visit Abraham, while he is recovering from circumcision (Baba Metzia 86b);
— Hachnasat Orchim [welcoming guests]: Abraham and Sarah welcome visitors at the opening of the portion; later, hospitality is an issue for Lot and the people of Sodom;
— Shalom Bayit [peace in the home]: according to the Tzenah Ur’enah — the Yiddish translation and commentary on the Torah, first published in the early 1600s — we learn from differences between Sarah’s words (Genesis/Breishit 18:12) and God’s (18:13) that a harmless lie is allowed for the sake of family peace.
* Please see Source Materials for full citations.
Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.
The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.