Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon
How would you feel if G-d Himself decided to visit you when you were ill? This would be the Supreme act of "bikur cholim" (visiting the sick) and Avraham our Father proved worthy of the Divine visit. The Rabbis marvel at this and the personal nature of G-D's concern for the physical and emotional well being of the first Patriarch. If Avraham was to be the first Jew to father the Jewish nation and to spread the concept of Monotheism to the world, after G-d had literally flooded the world with destruction, He wanted to check up on the patient's physical and emotional state.
The Almighty waited until the 3rd day when natural healing takes place to then complete the healing and CONFIRM the Mitzvah of the Covenant through the circumcision which Avraham performed on himself.
The Rabbis continue to interpret that this visit of Hashem was also to prepare Avraham for the impending destruction of Sodom, as if Hashem knew from the compassionate nature of Avraham that He (Hashem) would meet with opposition from Avraham.
In the end G-d totally destroyed Sodom after all the negotiations and bargaining on Avraham's part to save the 5 cities, Sodom and it's environs.
Not even 10 righteous men were found and Hashem won the argument!
Fast forward to the end of the portion where Abraham experiences the final and most unbearable test of his life, the command to sacrifice his own beloved son Isaac, the child of his old age which he was blessed with at age 100. The overpowering order would in itself crush any man but not Avraham, because he was already given super strength by that earlier visit from the Almighty during his recovery from circumcision. Abraham was so fortified in his inner being that he was able, as incredible as it sounds, to obey G-d in this instance without an argument. But as we read, this was a supreme test which required Divine intervention to prevent tragedy, and so it was that the Angel of G-d wrested his hand and not one touch of harm came to the body of the bound Isaac, only the tears of the Angel falling on Avraham and his beloved son as G-d was assured of the total devotion of His people Israel for ETERNITY!
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