Illustration: "Abraham Entertains Three Strangers"
By Gustave Dor'e
This week’s Torah portion, although relatively small, nevertheless has within it some of the most important stories in Judaism. Accordingly, it has become necessary to split this Torah commentary into two parts.
Genesis 18:1 – 22:25
The first of these stories has to do with the three angels who walk by the tent of Abram while he is encamped near the trees of Mamre.
Probably the most important word in this story is: “sit”, because we noted in other articles that in Hebrew this forms the root of the word for: “Sabbath”.
Thus, we previously also discussed that: “studying the Torah” should be associated with: “walking along the way”, yet we also stressed that there is a limit to how much a man can teach himself.
Accordingly, Abraham, like Noah, rests and awaits a message from God.
Another important point is that we are told he is sitting at the entrance to his tent and later a tent will become the home for the Ark of the Covenant. Hence: “a tent” can be considered a metaphor for: “a holy place”. Later, in the prophecies of Balaam he will utter the famous words: “how goodly are your tents Jacob, thy tabernacles Israel” and “God”, of course, is always associated with: “goodness”.
In addition, the encampment is located by some: “trees”, which we explained were metaphors for: “sources of knowledge”.
The Hebrew name of this specific group of trees is: “Mamre” which probably means: “from bitterness”.
In my opinion the concept of “bitterness”, in both the Old and New Testaments, is extremely important since so many women are named: “Miriam” (i.e. “Mary”) which means: “bitterness from the sea”.
Also the Hebrew name of the perfume/spice: “myrrh” also shares the same root, presumably because of its “bittersweet scent”.
My personal interpretation is that: “sweet things” like: “honey” or: “figs” represent: “easy to understand spiritual concepts”. So, for example, traditionally when teaching small children to read the Torah, a piece of candy is placed on the word for God.
Accordingly, “bitterness” would then suggest: “something which is difficult to understand”.
Here it must be emphasized that I am not saying this means something untrue, just difficult to understand.
Hence, in the New Testament we are told that the moment myrrh perfume was poured on the body of Jesus by Mary Magdelene, his disciples began to argue about money and it is actually written that it was the aroma of this perfume which inspired Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus.
If we interpret this literally, the entire story is just plain ridiculous, but if we understand that the name: “Mary Magdalene” in Hebrew means: “Miriam of the Tower”, then we can immediately grasp that this female medium, via the symbolism of the myrrh, had presented to Jesus and his disciples “a high level spiritual teaching that is difficult to understand”.
So difficult to understand, in fact, that the disciples begin to argue over its value and this new teaching leads the spiritually confused Judas Iscariot to actually decide on leaving the group and betraying them.
Since we have already discussed in other articles that “money” is a metaphor for: “religious teachings”, we can then see that all this ties in nicely with trees and the name: Mamre.
Hence, my interpretation of all these various aspects of the “trees of Mamre” is that Abraham had establish some sort of: “esoteric religious school or academy” at this site and one day, while sitting at prayer, he experienced a revelation.
In a previous article entitled: “Cooking a Young Goat in it’s Mother’s Milk” I explained why I think that if God really wanted to say: “meat” and: “dairy products” he would have done so.
Since he specifically said “a young goat” and “its mother’s milk” three times, it was my conclusion that these two items were metaphors which represented: “deceptive teachings” and: “spiritual teachings” (If you would like to read the article in full, please click this link:
The Pharisee Paul of Tarsus was a student of Gamliel, a famous teacher in the Hillel school of thought, and in his writings he explains that: “meat” is a metaphor for: “difficult to understand teachings” and: “the sweet milk” from a woman’s breast is a metaphor for: “easy to understand spiritual teachings”.
While I understand that many people consider Paul of Tarsus to be a Christian, nevertheless, after he switched religions he did not forget how to speak Hebrew. Furthermore, for all intents and purposes, Paul of Tarsus writes only about the Torah and he barely mentions any of the stories found in the gospels.
One of the most famous of the Rabbinical Commentaries is called: “The Prepared Table” and if one accepts the conclusion that: “each type of food” represents: “a specific type of religious teaching”, then logic would suggest that: “a table” (i.e. a place where food is served), becomes a metaphor for: “a classroom” and: “a servant who serves food” becomes a metaphor for: “a teacher”.
Thus, we discussed in an earlier commentary that this was why the Emperor of Persia sent: “a wine steward” to help Ezra rebuild the temple (So the next time you go out to dinner, treat your waiter with respect…..).
Accordingly, it is my personal conclusion that when we are told that: “Abraham served both meat and milk” on the same “prepared table”, this is a metaphor for: “a religious presentation of some sort” whereby: “Abraham is demonstrating that he is a skilled teacher who has the ability to explain both simple and difficult religious concepts”. To acknowledge his capabilities the three angels announce that the following year he will have: “a son” (He will receive a revelation).
Once again, we are speaking in metaphors and we have shown repeatedly, in reference to the holy day of Shavout, that there is a connection between: "a son", "fruit" and: "the word of God". We have also discussed that: “a bed” is a metaphor for: “a place for communicating with God” and that: “sex” is a metaphor for: “requesting knowledge” (thus the verb used to describe “sex” in the Torah is: “to know”).
Accordingly, “the son of Abraham” is a metaphor for: “a new and great revelation” and later the statement “I shall bring my son out of Egypt” means that: “parts of God’s word that were revealed to the Israelites can also be found in the ancient Egyptian religions”. These similarities are something which many scholars have commented upon repeatedly, especially in relation to Christianity.
Another very important aspect of this story is the name: “Isaac”, which we are told was selected because Sarah “laughed” when she heard she was to have a child. Why this is important is that we shall come across this word in two other stories. Isaac will later be seen “laughing” with his wife Rebecca and Ishmael will be seen by Sarah “laughing” with Isaac.
Traditionally, “laughing with Rebecca” has been interpreted to be “having sex with Rebecca”, however, if this is correct then: “Ishmael laughing with Isaac” would suggest some sort of: “homosexual activity”. A conclusion I don’t accept.
My belief is that the Hebrew name: “Asher” means: “happiness” and “Asher” should be associated with: “the number ten” since he is the second son of the concubine of Jacob’s first wife.
Since Abraham will be: “one hundred years old” (i.e. ten multiplied by ten) when Isaac is born, this suggests a connection between: "the Ten Commandments", "happiness", "laughter" and "the birth of Isaac".
In other words, it's my opinion, "laughter" should be associated with: "prayers", "requests from God" and "religious ecstasy", yet, at the same time, it should also be associated with: "doubt" and "disbelief".
Thus Sarah, as a skilled religious medium, had provided many insights throughout the years, but the message that, at this late date, she would finally be able to bring forth the one great revelation for which Abraham had been waiting appeared incredible to her (i.e. it was too good to be true). Later when Ishmael was praying with Isaac, he apparently expressed doubt about certain aspects of the service or possibly scoffed at young Isaac’s ability to lead the new religion. Thus, they are described as: "laughing".
This episode with Ishmael then brings us to the concepts of: “conversions”, “slavery” and “who is a Jew?” which is where we shall begin our discussion in part two….
Nevertheless, before concluding, I would just like to mention once again that many Orthodox Jews enjoy telling me how little I know about Judaism and that if I would only speak with a rabbi, "He" would explain everything to me...That's nice, however, I do speak with rabbis....a lot of rabbis....This week I became involved with an "Orthodox" website called: "Mi Yodea?" which in English means: "Who knows?"Basically, as I have noted before, Orthodox Jews don't believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are really Jews. So, for example, on the Chabad website they will patiently explain to you that Moses performed "a mass conversion" in Exodus 24 and these "converts" were the first Jews; not Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.Accordingly, I was not surprised when the participants on "Mi Yodea?" starting writing again and again that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were gentiles...So, in this week's Torah portion, when we see Abraham serving milk and meat together, obviously their conclusion is: "Of course, Abraham served milk and meat together, he was NOT a real Jew".
It never enters their mind to think that Abraham was a real Jew and it is they who are violating God's laws by: "adding to the Torah"....with all their ridiculous regulations about not eating ice cream for several hours after eating a steak...Oh no, the rabbis are right, Abraham is wrong.....and Moses, with his rules about: "not adding to the Torah", doesn't belong in the Haggadah....