These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Parshat Vayera D’var Poem

Posted on November 15, 2016 by Adam Josephs

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Gen. 18:16
The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Avraham
walking with them to see them off.
וַיָקמו מִשָם הָאֲנָשִים, וַיַשְקפו עַל-פְנֵי סְדם; וְאַבְרהָם–הֹלְֵ עִמָם, לְשַלְחָם.

and Gen. 21:14
Early next morning Avraham took some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He
placed them over her shoulder, together with the child, and sent her away.
וַיַשְכֵם אַבְרהָם בַבֹקר וַיִקַח-לֶחֶם וְחֵמַת מַיִם וַיִתֵן אֶל-הָגָר שָם עַל-שִכְמָה, וְאֶת-הַיֶלֶד—וַיְשַלְחֶהָ;
וַתֵלְֶ וַתֵתַע, בְמִדבַר בְאֵר שָבַע.

and Sotah 9:6
ט,ו זקני אותה העיר רוחצין את ידיהם במים במקום עריפתה של עגלה ואומרין, “ידינו, לא
שפכו את הדם הזה, ועינינו, לא ראו” (דברים כא,ז). וכי עלת על ליבנו שזקני בית דין שופכי
דמים הם: אלא שלא בא על ידינו, ופטרנוהו; ולא ראינוהו, והנחנוהו. והכוהנים אומרין, “כפר
לעמך ישראל אשר פדית, ה’, ואל תיתן דם נקי, בקרב עמך ישראל” (דברים כא,ח). ולא היו
צריכין לומר “וניכפר להם, הדם” (שם), אלא רוח הקודש מבשרתן–אימתיי שתעשון ככה, הדם
מתכפר לכם.

The elders of that city wash their hands with water in the place where the heifer’s neck
was broken and they say, “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes
seen it” (Deuteronomy 21:7). But did we really think that the elders of the court are
shedders of blood! Rather, he did not come to us and we dismissed him without
supplying him with food and we did not see him and let him go without escort.
Then the priests exclaim, “Absolve, O Lord, Your people Israel, whom You redeemed,
and do not let guilt for the blood of the innocent remain among your people
Israel” (21:8). They did not need to say, “And they will be absolved of bloodguilt” (21:8),
rather the Holy Spirit announces to them, “When you act in this way, the blood is
forgiven you.”

“parshat vayera d’var poem”

The miracle of having angels in your life
is made all the more clear
by seeing them on their way
out of your life
knowing maybe
they will never return
and you did all you could do.
In Parashat Vayera
Avraham, our only one
demonstrates the art of farewell.
Whether towards Sodom
or to wander dry near Beersheva
Avraham our father
sees off his wife and son
his three messenger angel guests.
Whatever happens to them
he does all he can do
eye to eye
he says goodbye.
It could be worse.
It could be that you’ll
never see the one
who comes
needing you
the edge of your door.
left wondering
how different it could’ve been
had you the opportunity
to hold out your hand
to open your eye.

-Adam Josephs