Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas Vayeira

What is Paramount?

After Avrohom circumcises himself, G-d comes to visit him...

"And G-d appeared to him (Avrohom) in the plains of Mamreh... (18:1)

Rashi comments that the location (plains of Mamreh) is recorded as a reward to Mamreh, who was the only one to encourage Avrohom Avinu's decision to circumcise himself.

Onar and Eshkol, Avrohom's other confidants, advised against circumcision (B'reishis Rabba, 42:8). Why? And why was Mamreh's encouragement considered so commendable?

Onar, Eshkol, and Mamreh understood that the bris milah would elevate Avrohom. It would separate him from the rest of mankind - and from them. The spirirual benefit they enjoyed from their close relationship with Avrohom would be lessened. Onar and Eshkol opposed Avrohom's circumcision because they didn't want to be distanced from him. But Mamreh understood that G-d's Will was that Avrohom sanctify His Name in an elevated state, rather than through social interaction. Mamreh realized that advising against bris milah would be selfish and wrong.

Mamreh's unselfish act - relinquishing his own closeness to Avrohom so that Avrohom could better sanctify G-d's Name - was rewarded in kind: Because he agreed to become disassociated from Avrohom, the Torah associates them for eternity - recording that the appearance of G-d to Avrohom was in the plains of Mamreh.

What we should learn from this is that what is paramount is the sanctification of G-d's Name. If the honor of Heaven is best magnified by others, then we must aid and encourage their efforts. In this way, we will have a share, too, in sanctifying His Name. (Sfas Emes Vayeiro, 5634)

"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes"- excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah"(Targum Press) and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.

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