Vayera (He Appeared)B’resheet(Genesis) 18:1-22:24

Torah Portion: Vayera (He Appeared)B’resheet(Genesis) 18:1-22:24

Haftorah Reading: II Kings 4:1-37

This Shabbat I want to involve each of you in a personal search. What trees have you planted and what trees will you plant?  My question this week involved Genesis 21:33. In this verse we read, “And he planted a tamarisk tree in Beer Sheva and there he called on the name of the L-rd, the G-d of the universe.”

This verse tells us Avraham planted a tree. Why would he have done this? He was surrounded by people who did not believe as he did. People who could in fact see him as a threat to them. Remember Avraham and his servants composed quite a large group, probably numbering in the hundreds. So why plant a tree?

To help us understand this act let’s look at this tree. What were its characteristics? It was a mid size tree, a prickly tree. It could grow to at least 30 feet tall. It adapted well to the climate around Beer Sheva, needing little water. So it seems Avraham chose a tree that was well suited to live a long life if planted there. He chose a tree that grew deep roots.  As an evergreen it also symbolized long life and the blessing of G-d.

Avraham also planted this tree near the well in Beer Sheva. By this act he was telling everyone around that he was the owner of the well and its surroundings. Interestingly, this act of tree planting is still a tradition in Israel today. Some of you have planted trees in Israel in memory of someone who passed away.

So, I think Avraham was saying to his neighbors, “I’m here to stay.” I and my descendants will see this tree and remember G-d’s goodness to us.” He also was making a statement about his G-d and G-d’s faithfulness.

Genesis 21:33 gives us a deeper insight into Abraham’s thoughts. Abraham’s decision to plant this tree was a statement to the surrounding Philistines letting them know that he wasn’t going anywhere. The tree that he planted would take up to twenty years to mature and he would be there to see that happen. When they looked at this tree they would not only remember him but also remember the one true faithful G-d he believed in.

In Jeremiah 29:1-14 we can read an example of G-d’s faithfulness when He spoke to the captives of Babylon through Jeremiah. He assured them that after 70 years He would return them to their land. G-d never abandons His people. Suffering may come but if we are faithful, if we don’t forget the tree we each have or will plant, G-d will never forget us. In B’resheet 24:1 we read these words, “The L-rd had blessed Avraham in all things.”

In the Messianic scripture, Mark 13 we read about the parable of a man who went away on a journey, leaving his servants in charge of his affairs until his return. He commanded the door keeper to watch, “stay alert, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming. So watch in case, coming suddenly, he finds you asleep.”

Matthew 24:36, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son except the Father alone.” In many ways each of us are in exile, “as in a foreign land, living in tents.” Hebrews 11:9. Like Avraham we are called  upon to make an investment where G-d has put us. We are to plant trees and call upon the name of the L-rd. We are to dig wells and plant trees. It makes no difference our age or health or location.  We are to provide shade and water to those who are wandering and thirsty.

So by this act of Avraham G-d is telling us to plant, to sow seeds and be about our Father’s business. Bless each of you this week as you find ways to build up the Kingdom of G-d.