Parshat Vayera By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And Hashem Appeared to Avraham in Elonei Mamreh
Our Sages teach that Avraham had three colleagues that advised him in regard to Hashem’s command to commit circumcision at the end of last week’s parsha: Aner advised him not to commit circumcision since doing so would cause him to suffer in his old age. Eshkol advised him not to commit circumcision since doing so would render him weak before his enemies. Only Mamreh said: Look at the miracles Hashem has performed for you, should you not listen to His command?! Therefore, our Sages explain, Hashem said I shall reveal Myself (in prophecy) to Avraham only in the lot of Mamreh as it says, “and Hashem appeared to Avraham in Elonei Mamreh.” This advice is hinted to in his name, for the name “Mamreh” means to “go despite,” as he advised to commit circumcision “despite” the advice of his other colleagues.
Indeed, Hebron-Mamreh carries this special inspiration of courage, as can be seen in the courage Kaleb drew from Hebron despite the plot of the spies.
With the same token, we also see that the first time the term “Avraham HaIvri,””Avraham the Hebrew” is mentioned is in context of his dwelling in the plains of Mamreh. Our Sages explain the term “Haivri” to mean that Avraham was on one side – “ever” – with his faith in the One True God, while the rest of the world was on the other side, worshiping idolatry. Here again, the fact that the verse ties “HaIvri” to Mamreh” shows that the courage to cling steadfast to faith in Hashem despite all opposition is integrally linked with the power of “Mamreh”, the insight of this colleague of Avraham, and the location called after him, the City of Courageous Inspiration – Hebron.
An important key that Mamreh provides us is to contemplate the ways of Hashem and His kindness upon us. By so doing we are invigorated with great faith to keep the ways of Hashem, just as Avraham Avinu did. Also the location of Mamreh-Hebron reminds us to remember the kindness of Hashem upon our Patriarchs. Mamreh-Hebron also causes us to contemplate our roots in the Holy Land from antiquity and appreciate the great Divine gift of the Land of Israel, Land of the Holy Presence, thereby also instilling us with great faith to keep the ways of Hashem.
Real Stories from the Holy Land
“According to the Arizal on every Shabbat one should preferably encircle the Shabbat table with branches of hadassim that have three leaves parallel each other throughout each branch, as is used on Sukkot. For numerous years I used hadassim (myrtles) that did not have three leaves together, since I did not know how to acquire such “triple-leaved” myrtle braches in a practical way. However, one week I read the teaching of Hebron Kabbalist, Rabbi Avraham Azulai, who bids that only “triple-leaved” myrtle braches should be taken, and if not no myrtle branches should be taken at all. Therefore, that week I made a renewed attempt to try to find such “triple-leaved” myrtle braches, such as looking for “leftovers” of such branches from Sukkot, but I was not successful. Shabbat came, and I prepared to skip the myrtle ceremony, based on what I had learned that week. However, it turned out that my daughter, who had not known about my attempts to find myrtles that week, that Friday had gone to a myrtle bush, not known to both of us before, that has such “triple-leaved” myrtle braches and had plucked them before Shabbat and put them in a vase on the Shabbat table…” A.G