Vol 10.09 - Vayeira 1               Spanish French Audio  Video

Hebrew Text:

Page 49   Page 50   Page 51   Page 52   Page 53   Page 54  


(5733) The Avodah of Avraham in Parshat Lech and Parshat Vayeira   


Vision and Revelation

The Torah portion Vayeira, the Hebrew word for revelation, begins by stating that “G‑d revealed Himself to him Avraham in the Plains of Mamrei…. The Zohar note that, prior to Avraham’s circumcision, he could only encounter G‑d in a “bamachazeh” — the Aramaic word for vision. After his circumcision, he attained such a lofty state that G‑d clearly revealed Himself to him — vayeira.

Clearly, it was the act of circumcision that brought about this radical change in Avraham, so that he became able to see G‑d Himself. What was it about circumcision that brought about this transformation?

The difference in the spiritual quality of Avraham before and after his circumcision will be understood by considering the explanation provided by Chassidus regarding the difference between Hebrew and other languages, which is likened to the difference between stones and bricks.

The basic difference between these two materials lies in the fact that stones are a heavenly creation while bricks are created by man. The same difference exists in languages, and in the letters and words from whence language is “built.”

The Hebrew letters, the letters of the Torah, are heavenly — likened to stones, for the Torah itself is of Divine origin. However, the letters and words of other languages are compared to bricks, for all other languages are entirely artificial — people got together and agreed that particular words would convey certain meanings.

The difference in Avraham before and after his circumcision will be understood accordingly. Until G‑d commanded Avraham to perform the mitzvah of circumcision, all of Avraham’s service was entirely self-motivated, without command — and thus empowerment — from Above. As such, his service was necessarily limited, for a created being can only reach so high

Once G‑d commanded Avraham to circumcise himself, he was empowered from Above with the ability to unite with the Almighty through the performance of a boundless G‑dly commandment, thereby enabling him to reach infinitely higher.

Moreover, performing the mitzvah of circumcision also had the effect of wholly nullifying Avraham and uniting him with G‑d, for the commandment of circumcision possesses a quality possessed by no other mitzvah — it is performed upon the person’s body itself, so that the physical body is aware of its nullification and unificationwith G‑d.

Thus, the level of Avraham’s service prior to the mitzvah of circumcision was similar to “bricks;” it was man-made, and thus necessarily limited. Only after he acted in response to the commandment to circumcise himself did his level of service rise to that of “stones” — accomplished through and empowered by the limitless force of the Divine.

This is also why Avraham’s level prior to circumcision was only that of “bamachazeh,” for it was similar to man-made bricks. With circumcision, however, Avraham attained Vayeira, the Hebrew word for revelation, similar to “stones” that derive from heaven.

Before Avraham was circumcised, i.e., before he reached total unity with G‑dliness, he was only able to view G‑d through the veil of a vision, while afterwards, he was able to view a clear and lucid revelation of Essence.

As “the deeds of our forefathers serve as a lesson to their descendants", there is a lesson here for us all:

Just as Avraham failed to reach the highest levels until he performed the mitzvah of circumcision, so too are we to know that we must never be satisfied with our current level of spiritual service, but must always attempt to reach higher; even when one apprehends G‑dliness, it may be merely on the level of a “vision.”

On the other hand, we are assured that when a person serves as best he can with his own power, he will ultimately receive the most lofty degrees of revelation — up to and including the supreme revelation of vayeira.

Chassidic Dimension - Volume 3: Vayeira -Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, pp. 50-54


The Sages state that the book of Bereshit is called the "Book of the Upright ones" (Yesharim) since it is the “book of the history of the generations of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob who are called upright”

However, even though the book (of Bereshit) is named in general for all the three patriarchs, in other words that the entirety of the book of the “upright” is connected (in Pnimiyut) to all the three “upright” (in plural - Yesharim), however, specifically there are Parshiot where their main (revealed) subject is about one of the Patriarchs specifically.

The Parshiot whose entire topic is specifically about Avraham – are Parshiot Lech Lecha and Vayeira.

And the fact that they are separated into two Parshiot, even though both of them have the same subject: Avraham Avinu proves that there are two periods (“Parshiot”) and categories on the aspect and quality of Avraham Avinu

And since the quality of Avraham Avinu is his Avodah (service) to HaShem, the two Parshiot are two levels in the lofty Avodah of Avraham Avinu. And since there is a difference between the two levels (two Parshiot) of Avraham Avinu, one must understand the names of these Parshiot – for the name of the Parshiot hints and alludes its subject, as has been explained many times

The main difference (in the subject of the quality of Avraham) between Parshiot Lech Lecha and Parshiot Vayeira is:

In Parshat Lech Lecha, the subject is the level of Avraham Avinu, as he was before his Bris Milah (for only at the end of the Parsha does it tell how he was commanded by G-d to circumcise himself and his household and that he indeed did so)

And in Parshat Vayeira it speaks about Avraham Avinu after he fulfilled the Mitzvah of Milah –

And this difference is alluded to also in their names “ Lech Lecha “ and “ Vayeira “

2. It states in Zohar, that “prior to Avraham’s circumcision, the status of his prophecy was of the level: “The word of G-d was revealed to Avraham in a “bamachazeh” (vision)”

However, after his circumcision, it states that: “G-d appeared to him” (vayeira), which is a higher level. And the reason for this is explained there: “because the ministering angels do not relate to the language of Targum (Aramaic). Therefore, prior to Avraham’s circumcision, the revelation was on the level of vision which is the language of Targum, in order that the ministering angels not have a possibility to accuse that G-d is revealing Himself to a person that is not circumcised.

However, after his circumcision, where there was no further possibility of accusation, “G-d appeared to him with the level of”vayeira” which is in the Holy Tongue, and reflects a much higher level.

One could ask:

It’s either /or:

If Avraham Avinu, on his own,  was suited, even prior to this, to this lofty revelation – why would the portion of Avraham Avinu (due to him) be worsened because of the worry that the angels would accuse? There are many ways that G-d could utilize, and through which, it is would be possible to avert the accusation of the angels, even if the revelation was in a manner that was due – (namely) to his lofty manner.

And if, due to Avraham Avinu’s state and quality, he was not yet suited to revelation of prophecy of the ‘lofty’ level, what need is there for the reason that ‘ there not be a possibility of accusation by the ministering angels’ . For even without this, he was not fitting for this revelation?

3. This can be understood by prefacing that which is stated in Torah Or, that the difference between Loshon Kodesh (the holy tongue - Hebrew) to the Loshon Targum (Aramaic - and other languages) is similar to the difference between stone and brick.

A stone is a heavenly creation while a brick is created by man.

The same difference exists in aforementioned languages, even between their letters from whence the language is “built.”

The letters of the Torah are called ‘stones’, for the Torah itself is of Divine origin. However, the letters (and words) of other languages are compared to ‘bricks’ (for they (their meanings etc) are agreed upon by man, alone)

( And the main purpose for the existence of these other languages (letters), is that they become elevated to holiness, through utilizing them to serve G-d)

According to the aforementioned Zohar, one could say that that the difference (of quality) in Avraham Avinu before and after his circumcision is similar to the difference (mentioned above) between stone an brick

It is explained in many places that even though “Avraham Avinu fulfilled the entire Torah even before it was ‘given’ “, nevertheless, his Avodah in ascending in holiness was only to the level of the root of created beings. Because all of his service and actions were self-motivated, without being commanded to do so (for this is also an empowerment) from Above.

 (And a created being does not possess the power to reach above one’s own source, the root of created beings)

However, all his was prior to his fulfilling the Mitzvah of Milah (for his fulfillment of the entire Torah was “prior to its being given”, i.e. Prior to his being specifically commanded to do so)

However, once he was commanded from G-d to perform the mitzvah of circumcision,

where through this commandment he was given a special empowerment from Above to reach the level of Bitul and unification with the Creator, the Commander of commandments, in a higher manner –

he was able on his own volition to reach even higher than the root of created beings


Not only, through performing the mitzvah of circumcision alone, did he rise, in his service, to an infinitely higher level than his previous level,

 But additionally, through this Mitzvah, his entire being was completely nullified, and he united with G-d, in a complete manner, such that has no other likeness or comparison in (the performance of) other Mitzvot.

For this is the unique quality of the commandment of circumcision: “that it is a covenant (Bris) in your flesh”. In other words, even in one’s physical flesh, the Bittul to G-d is felt and the unification (accomplished) by it, which we do not find by any other Mitzvah.

Thus, the level of Avraham’s service prior to the mitzvah of circumcision, where he only reached to the root of created beings, was similar to the concept of “bricks”.

For in all of the greatness of his service, even though he accomplished mightily, and rose in his Bitul to G-d, to the utmost heights, he never left the boundary of (it being) “the handiwork of man (man-made)”, from the limitation of created beings and their source.

However, after he was circumcised, he rose in his service to the level of “stone” — the handiwork of G-d. For through fulfilling this Mitzvah, he rose above his aforementioned limitation. So much so that he became completely nullified and united with G-d - His service became like the handiwork of G-d and its ability to “reach” higher than the root of created beings.

With this, the previous statement, that Avraham’s level prior to circumcision was only that of “bamachazeh,” which (the language is of) Targum, is explained. For it is similar to “brick”, which is man-made (as above)

However, through the Mitzvah of circumcision, Avraham attained the level of “Vayeira” (revelation), which is in the holy Tongue (Hebrew) - similar to a stone that is the handiwork of G-d.

4. This concept, that prior to his circumcision, Avraham reached the level of “bamachazeh,” and afterwards to the level of “Vayeira” is not just because the two types of revelation and their differences correspond to two levels in Avodah, which manifest themselves as “brick” and “stone”,

But even the inner property of these two levels of prophecy have a common theme with the two levels in Avraham‘s Avodah.

For the Sages state: “All the prophets introduced their prophecies with the phrase, "Ko (amar) (So says G-d), but in addition, Moses prophesied with "Zeh hadovor" (This is the matter). The difference between them is explained, that "Zeh” refers to seeing the essence, as the sages state: “as one "who points with his finger and says 'This!'". And this is a aspect of seeing with "aspaklaria hameira" - "a clear lens" (a flawless perception of what G-d was telling him). However, the level of “Koh” is the level of "aspaklaria she'aina meira" - "an unclear lens"; and this is not seeing the essence (i.e. they did not have an exact perception of G-d’s words)

Accordingly, we can understand the difference between the revelation of “bamachazeh,” and the level of “Vayeira”:

The aspect “Vayeira” is vision – in other words in a manner that one sees G-d who is appearing to him, i.e seeing the essence

However, “bamachazeh”, even though we see that its aspect is (also) vision, it is not seeing the essence, but a “translation” (Targumo). As if G-dliness is appearing through garments that hide His essence.

 (and as mentioned above, “machazeh” is an Aramaic word. Namely that the holy tongue (G-dliness) is “translated”, (i.e understood by veiling it ) in other languages)

Therefore prior to Avraham’s circumcision, where Avraham Avinu had not yet attained the “everlasting Covenant in your flesh” - the covenant with G-dliness”, he accordingly did not merit to see the essence and source of G-dliness. In other words, he perceived only via the level of “machazeh” (vision)

However, afterword, where is being was completely nullified and he united (with G-d) with a complete unity – he reached a higher level in which G-d appeared to him at the level of “Vayeira” : seeing the essence of G-dliness.

5. This great quality of seeing the essence, which is attained through Bris Milah, is only possible with Bnei Yisroel. For the power to rise to this level, was given only to them, through the Avodah of Torah and Mitzvot, in general, and specifically through he Mitzvah of circumcision. And this is why the Torah was given specifically to them, despite the argument of the Angels that G-d place “his glory on the heavens” (and not give the Torah to Bnei Yisroel) -

For specifically since man possesses a Yetzer Hara (“an evil inclination“ as opposed to the Angels as Moshe asked them “Do you have a Yetzer Hara?”) and they descended to “Mitzraim” (literally Egypt, but alternatively) to straights and boundaries, (were Bnei Yisroel given the Torah). For all these (flaws) are refined, polished and elevated through fulfilling Torah and Mitzvot. Therefore, they have the ability to attain and reach the aforementioned level.

However, the Angels, notwithstanding that they possess a complete Bitul to G-d, and that their Avodah is on a lofty level, nevertheless do not have the ability the ascend above the ‘root of created beings’

Accordingly, one can explain the reason that the revelation of “Vayeira” to Avraham was not possible before his fulfilling the Mitzvah of Milah because of the claims of the Angels:

The intent of this is,

 not that the concern about the accusation of the Angels was a secondary cause that prevented this revelation

But, rather, since it was an accusation by Angels, is itself proof that Avraham was not (yet) suited for this. For, prior to his circumcision, even for all of his Avodah and rising in holiness and his Bitul to G-dliness etc, he still did not go out of the limitations of a mortal (created being) – Therefore his level was similar to the level of Angels (in that they also) cannot reach above the root of created beings. Therefore, like them, it was impossible to receive a revelation of G-dliness which is of the level: “Vayeira”

6. According to all this, we can understand why the Parshiot are separated. And why one is called “Lech Lecha” and the second “Vayeira”. And how this alludes to the two levels of Avraham Avinu, as mentioned above.

“Lech Lecha” is the aspect of going and leaving one’s previous limitations. And this is in all its specifics and manners, as is Explained in the verse: “From your land and from your birthplace and from the house of your fathers”. For this encompasses all the specifics in the aspect of going out of the boundaries and one’s elevating oneself in their level of Bitul to G-d. Yet all these levels are still on the level of “going out” – of removing oneself




Gutnick Chumash pp. 47
Gutnick Chumash pp. 49ff
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/91932/jewish/Vayeira.htm pp. 50-54
 Date Delivered:   Reviewer:       
Date Modified:    Date Reviewed: