Thursday, October 25, 2018

Parshat Vayera - Is it Well with You?

Image result for image are you okay
Parshaht Vayera - "Is it Well With You?"  In the Haftorah, when the Shunamite woman comes to visit the Prophet Elisha, he instructs his servant to greet her by asking, hashalom lach? Hashalom l’ishech?  “Is it well with you?  Is it well with your husband?”  She responds, Shalom, “It is well.”

The lesson is, that things aren’t well in the life of the Shunamite woman, and Elisha the Prophet, is wise enough to know that her “shalom” doesn’t really mean “shalom” he goes on to inquire what is wrong and to help her.

This is similar to the passage in our Torah reading in which Sarah, distraught that her handmaiden Hagar and Hagar’s son Ishmael, may be a threat to her own family, she expresses her concerns to her husband, Abraham, who is instructed, shema b’kolah, “listen to her voice.”  This doesn’t just mean, “do what she says,” but, as Rabbi S. R. Hirsch explains, it means, like in the case of Elisha, “listen​,​ for the hidden meaning, the underlying distress, the concerns not voiced.”

We ​become the most like prophets, the most like those to whom God speaks, this parshah is telling us, when we are able to really listen. Listen for the subtle ways in which God calls to us, and even more importantly, listen to the needs and hurts of our fellow human beings which they may not be ready or able to express out loud.