Illustration: "Abraham Entertains Three Strangers"
By Gustave Dor'e
By Gustave Dor'e
In part one we discussed:
1) The “Trees of Mamre” was a metaphor for some type of: “religious school” and that when we are told that Abram: “was sitting”, because this verb has the same root as the Hebrew word for: “Sabbath”, we concluded that instead of obtaining knowledge about God by working and studying, it was in fact by resting and thru divine inspiration that Abram received knowledge about God. After all, he certainly didn’t get knowledge by studying the Talmud….
2) “Meat” is a metaphor for: “difficult to understand religious teachings”, while “milk” is a metaphor for: “easy to understand spiritual teachings”. Our conclusion was that, since each type of food in the Torah is a metaphor for a specific type of knowledge, then: “a person who serves food” is a metaphor for: “a teacher”. Hence, when we are told that Abram served “milk” and “meat” together, he was demonstrating his mastery over various aspects of religious knowledge and that he was qualified for the next step (i.e. the birth of Isaac).
3) We talked a little bit about “slavery” and “free men” and that “a slave” represents: “someone who is compelled to study the religion of another”, whereas “a free man” represents: “someone who willingly accepts a teaching”. Along these same lines we mentioned that “a son” is a metaphor for: “a teaching”, thus the phrase: “the son of God” means: “one who speaks God’s word” and has nothing to do with a physical child…Hence, Ishmael is expelled from Abraham’s camp because he is described as: “the son of a slave” (i.e. Ishmael represents the beliefs of a people who were forced to accept God’s word and did not do so willingly).
When writing up part two, I realized that the article was just getting too long and dealt with too much material, so I have decided it would just be best to split the Torah portion Veyeira into three parts….sorry….
When Abraham, contemplated that his slave Eliezer would be his only heir, he was quite upset and told this to God.
As we discussed in Part One, in this week’s Torah portion we see that Sarah’s explanation for the expulsion of Ishmael is that he is “the son of a slave”. We have just explained that “a son” is a metaphor for: “a revelation” or: “the word of God the father”. Thus since “the Israelites are the custodians of God’s word”, in the Book of Exodus they are indeed referred to as: “God’s son”.
In addition to this, as mentioned in previous articles, when discussing the covenant with Abraham, God uses the word “descendants” at least ten times.
My conclusion from all this is that, as we have also touched upon in previous commentaries, “a slave” is a metaphor for: “someone who is forced to study something he doesn’t really believe in”, while “a worker” represents: “a willing student”. Hence, Moses, who is always protesting about how unworthy he is and about how much he doesn’t really want to be God’s envoy to Israel, is described as: “God’s servant”.
Accordingly, I believe that an argument can be made for drawing a parallel between the expulsion of Ishmael from Abraham’s camp and Moses not being permitted to enter the Promised Land. “Slaves” and: “servants” represent: “people who do not truly believe”. There is an element of “doubt” in their faith, thus Sarah “laughed” when she heard about the coming birth of Isaac. Thus, when we read about: “the laughter of Ishmael” and combined with his description as: “a slave’s son”, suggests that he too had his doubts and probably wasn’t willing to accept Isaac as Abraham’s sole heir.
Many, many scholars now believe that there is not even a word in Hebrew for: “a convert” and that the Hebrew word pronounced: “ger” actually means: “sojourner”.
Thus, while there can be absolutely no question that Abraham circumcised his slaves and taught them God’s ways, nevertheless, because they were being forced to accept these ideas they were mere “sojourners in the Land of Israel”.
In other words, what I am suggesting here is that: “the Land of Israel” is a metaphor for: “a religious school” established for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “Sojourners” and “slaves” are to be considered “temporary believers” with no true connection to the teachings.
As the Torah shall later explain, strangers have full rights while they live in the land of Israel, BUT, they are still classified as strangers, not Israelites, even though the Torah clearly states they have accepted the law.
So, for example, Israeli pilots go to America to learn flying techniques. While they are on an American base, if they obey all the rules, they have full rights to use the equipment and facilities; but this does not make them full-fledged members of the United States armed forces. When they leave the base and go home, they retain the knowledge, but they lose their rights to the equipment and facilities. They studied and mastered American tactics and procedures, but that does not make them American citizens….
Hence, we are told that Abraham was “a sojourner” in the Land of Canaan, he lived amongst them and probably adapted his lifestyle to accommodate to their ways, but he did not willingly accept their religion and he certainly did not “convert” to the religion of the Canaanites.
The next major story in this week’s Torah portion concerns Sodom and one of the better known stories in Judaism is the “debate/bargaining session” which takes place between Abram and God in regards to the destruction of that city.
In short: Abram starts with the plea concerning fifty good men and then slowly reduces this number, finally achieving the concession from God that if ten good men can be found in the city then Sodom will not be destroyed.
Tradition suggests this is the reason why the smallest congregation must consist of at least ten souls before prayers may begin. Regardless, the main issue is that Abram felt that God, as a just God, could not destroy something good.
It is my personal opinion that this story also negates the idea of a single golden rule. Clearly both this story and the story of the Ten Commandments suggest that the minimum number of rules is ten.
Nevertheless, since the discussion begins with the number: “fifty”, this implies that the topic of the conversation has something to do with: “redemption”. Accordingly, based on the definition of redemption we mentioned in earlier articles, Abram appears to be asking:
“If a man sins by distorting the meaning of God’s word, is it possible to reach a level so bad, or so low, that the source of learning about God will never be restored to him?”
As we touched upon earlier, the Israelites are told that the seven nations living in Canaan would be expelled from the land because of: “sexual offences”, and that: “sex” is a metaphor for: “praying”.
In the story of Sodom we shall also see that the offence which brings the destruction of the city is related to sex. What is surprising about the story is that Lot’s own daughters then go on to engage in incest, which is clearly listed by Moses as an abomination to God, yet no punishment is passed down to them.
What really doesn’t make sense in the story, however, is that Lot’s daughters had just left the town of Zoar, so they knew Lot was not the last man on earth. Hence, it is my opinion that they were not trying to preserve mankind, but were attempting to save “the few good seeds of knowledge” that Lot had succeeded in bringing out of Sodom with him.
Accordingly, the angel could not destroy the city until Lot left, because, as Abram had argued, a just God cannot destroy something good.
What is also quite clear from the story is that the Hebrew people definitely believed that a people’s religious teachings passed thru the father, not the mother otherwise it would have made no difference who the daughters had sex with. Since they did indeed have sex with their father and this resulted in the creation of two new peoples, it is obvious that Judaism passes thru the father, not the mother. Furthermore, we don’t even know the name of Lot’s wife or his daughters, neither do we know the names of the mothers of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah or Rachel !!!
Regardless, the main issue of this part of Veyeira is: What exactly was the sin of Sodom?
We said the conversation between Abraham and God had to do with redemption and having one’s source of religious knowledge returned to them.
We implied then that Abraham was asking: Can a man sin to such an extent that this source of knowledge will never ever be restored?
In the “Beresheit” commentary, we discussed that: “Eve’s name” is related to: “life” and: “understanding”, hence there is also a connection between: “death” and “misunderstanding”. In other words: someone who is: “totally ignorant of God’s ways” is described as: “dead”. Therefore, to be “born again” means: “to have the source of God’s knowledge restored…” and this is NOT what Christian’s are describing because people who are “born again” in America, never had connection with God’s word in the first place.
In addition to all this we already noted that “the sexual act” was a metaphor for: “praying” and that Moses will later explain to the Children of Israel that the seven nations living in Canaan would be expelled for sexual perversions.
Thus, if sex with a woman produces “sons”, which we showed was a metaphor for: “the word of God”, then: “a homosexual act” represents: “men seeking knowledge from men”, with absolutely no possibility of producing a message from God.
Thus, the homosexual’s action mimics the act of prayer (i.e. they look like religious people), but the purpose of their acts are NOT to obtain messages from God, but merely pleasure and self aggrandizement.
In other words: “men who study the ways of men” instead studying of the ways of God can be classified as: “homosexuals” (i.e. students of the Talmud).
Before moving on to the story of the sacrifice of Isaac which we shall discuss in Part Three, I would also just quickly like to mention that for me there is a connection between the story of Lot drinking wine and the story of Noah drinking wine and I believe that both of these stories are tied into the comment by one rabbi who said that on Purim a person should get so drunk that they no longer can distinguish between Mordichai and Haman.
In other words: “being drunk”, especially with wine, is similar to: “being naked and not knowing the difference between good and evil” and we mentioned earlier that when King Saul was naked people asked if he had become a prophet.