Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Spielberg's Fabelman’s and Vayishlach

 Spielberg's Fabelman’s and Vayetzei Vayishlach Dec 3 2022 

For the video discussion, follow this link:



Last week, our Torah reading left off with Jacob running for his life from his vengeful brother. This Shabbat we have the story of Jacob and the ladder with the angels going up and down as a sign of reassurance as he runs from the obvious danger of a brother who would kill him, into the hands of an uncle-and  father-in-law—who abuses him over and again, as the Midrash and the Haggadah say it: “Arami oved Avi”-the Aramean Lavan tried to kill my father”.


I'm going to skip ahead skip ahead from last week's stealing of the birthright ( per Esau) or buying it for Anderson’s split pea soup( nezid adshim, per Jacob)




 to this week's flight and angels up and down the ladder


and ahead to next week where the two brothers reconcile.

Jacob is about to meet his brother upon his return. he is very afraid we know he divides up his camp into two parts so that if Esau attacks one part the other part can escape. we know the vision of the wrestling with the Angel as Jacob struggles with himself and then he comes to Esau . Jacob essentially grovels and Suddenly, Esau, instead of killing, kisses.


Peter Paul Rubens

 ספרי במדבר סט, עמ' 167

Regarding dots over the word for Kiss:

·       * * *

וישקהו שלא נשקו בכל לבו

. רשב"י אומר הלכה בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב אלא נהפך רחמיו באותה שעה ונשקו בכל לבו.

 "And he (Esav) kissed (vayishakehu) him (Jacob)": There are dots above (all the letters in) "vayishakehu" — He did not kiss him with all his heart. R. Shimon b. Yochai says: It is a known halachah that Esau hates Jacob, but his mercy gained the ascendancy at that time and he kissed him with all his heart.”

Problematic- what did Rabbi Shimon Bar Yichai mean when he said “halakhah”, since that means an obligation. Not that Esau has a particular grudge, going back to the birthright, but that it embedded in his nature, obsessive-compulsive.

Over the course of time, “Edom” became a code name for the Roman Empire, and then, the Holy Roman Empire, Christianity. Thus, the Jew was caught between the Christian and Muslim world, the Edomites and the Ishmaelites. Cousins, on both sides, “kissing cousins”, who don’t get along.

 The artist, Rubens,above, must have known of this midrashic metaphor, so that  Esau and his troops re depicted in Roman armor, while Jacob, the middle easterner, uses camels.


Is there a lesson from this?

This from the Bible commentator Obadiah Sforno, Italian Rabbi and philosopher, during the Renaissance:

“His attitude changed suddenly when he realized to what extent Yaakov had humbled himself before him. 

It is of great concern to us seeing that we live among the descendants of Esau, people who are arrogant, consider themselves invincible. Yaakov’s conduct vis a vis Esau teaches that the only way to escape the sword of Esau is through self degradation and gifts.

 If the Jewish people during the period of the second Temple had taken his advice to heart, the Temple would not have been destroyed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai testified to this when he said ‘if not for the militant extremists the Romans would not have destroyed the Temple.’”

Now, this attitude was very true for most of Jewish history- we made it through by often laying low. It may have been Jesus that said “ Turn the other cheek”, ( actually, as a devout Jew, quoting from our part of the book ) but that was the survival strategies of Jews for centuries.

יִתֵּ֧ן לְמַכֵּ֛הוּ לֶ֖חִי יִשְׂבַּ֥ע בְּחֶרְפָּֽה׃ {ס}         Let him offer his cheek to the smiter;
Let him be surfeited with mockery.(Lamentations 3)also in Job and Isaiah, similar

So, the Rabbis summed up our agreement with the world (Ketubot 111 a)(playing on a phrase in Song of Songs-“ I make you swear not to arouse my lover”)

God forced the Jews to two oaths, and the gentiles to one:

שָׁלֹשׁ שְׁבוּעוֹת הַלָּלוּ לָמָּה? אַחַת שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּחוֹמָה, וְאַחַת שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא יִמְרְדוּ בְּאוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וְאַחַת שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַגּוֹיִם שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁתַּעְבְּדוּ בָּהֶן בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי.

For Israel- not to take over the land of Israel by battle formation

And Not to rebel against the nations

And for the nations- not to enslave the children of Israel too much!


 Is it still valid.? Was that oath violated during the Holocaust?


I couldn’t help but think of this when I watched the Spielberg movie Fabelman, his own theatrical version of his life.

Spoiler alert:

As a loan Jewish student in our high school in Northern California, the hero of our story is picked on and beaten up as a Christ killer. How does he take revenge?


He plays his injury to his advantage, gains the sympathy of the girls in school.

Volunteers to be the videographer of the senior ditch day and plays his movie at the senior prom. Lo and behold against all expectation he makes the villain, the one who bullied him ,look like a hero.,


Here is the great twist. The bully now breaks down in total frustration because he has been pretending all along to be some kind of superhero in the local school when in truth he knows he is incompetent and failing in many ways. To be portrayed as a hero by his Jewish antagonist is too much for him.

So here is the Jacob meets Esau in a modern version. The rival brothers meet and one kills the other with kindness,so Sammy kills the anti-semite with kindness.

It sounds good. Again, quoting Jesus, Luke 6:30 And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what is yours, do not demand it back. 

But what we know, is that Jesus is referencing Proverbs 25:21

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.…

(Great Christian theologian and righteous doctor, Albert Schweitzer put it, it is end of days theology—the end is coming soon, so why fight-God will do it! It was not a philosophy for all ages.)

So, if you are weak, use jiu-jitsu, use the enemy’s weakness and play on it.

Still, is it a viable strategy? Was it viable during the Holocaust? Did not the nations of the world violate that Talmudic oath, not to oppress the Jews overly much? Have not the nations of the world, at the UN this week once again violated their obligation to the Jewish people by declaring the establishment of Israel a “Nakba”, a catastrophe? Do we solve anti-semitism by playing the sweet guy?

Not all the Rabbis were pleased with Jacob’s groveling:

בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה שֶׁקָּרָא יַעֲקֹב לְעֵשָׂו אֲדֹנִי, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתָּה הִשְׁפַּלְתָּ עַצְמְךָ וְקָרָאתָ לְעֵשָׂו אֲדֹנִי ח' פְּעָמִים, חַיֶּיךָ אֲנִי מַעֲמִיד מִבָּנָיו שְׁמוֹנָה מְלָכִים קֹדֶם לְבָנֶיךָ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר 

(בראשית לו, לא)וְאֵלֶּה הַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר מָלְכוּ וגו'.( Bereshit Rabbah 75)

At the moment Jacob said to Esau” My Lord”, the Holy One told him: Because you demeaned yourself in front of him, and called him “ My Lord “ 8 times, (I swear on) your life, his descendants shall rule for eight generations before your descendants will rule.!w-


Now, go from theoretical to real:

So, I am opening the floor for your own experiences, with anti-Semitism, or bullying. How you dealt with it.


I will say from my own experience, growing up as an immigrant, in this country, that my experience, has been blessedly charmed. When I was in 1st and 2nd grade we were in Manhattan in community of Jewish Holocaust survivors and I went to a Jewish school run by survivors ,very Jewish .  My father made me wear a beret on the street, which was the German Jewish style, and I hated it. I wanted to wear the same kind of cap that my classmates did. My father taught me that there's nothing special in being like everybody else.

So , I practiced that growing up.

A few years later we moved to a small town in Ohio. I was one of the few Jewish children in the school and when it was my turn to lead the Christian “Lord's Prayer” as was the custom in those days. I told the teacher ( I was only 9 years old at the time) I didn't think it was the right prayer for me to say. The teacher was very understanding and said I could lead any prayer I wanted. So when it was my turn I taught the class Shema and had them sing Hatikvah. and I never had a drop of trouble and nobody ever bugged me because of it , even though, when the word got out to the members of the Jewish community, they were in a panic!

We moved back to a city with a larger Jewish community for a few years and then my father took a congregation again this time in a town with very few Jews and I was one of the few Jewish kids in high school . No one ever picked on me or bothered me, and this was in West Virginia, where the most famous Senator and great Majority leader of the Democrats, a liberal,  Robert Byrd , had made his name by being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But I guess I was so Jewish that instead of turning against me that everybody respected me and I was in everybody's good graces. I myself used to hang around at the local YMCA with kids of mixed racial and modest backgrounds. Only once was I bothered by a bully, not because I was Jewish, but because I trudged along with a heavy briefcase, because I was too brainy—and I just walked away, and nothing happened. A charmed life. Maybe, it helped that by then, I was also a little more buff than the Fabelman character.

As for missionaries, like in the Spielberg movie, one of my friends was the daughter of a local Seventh Day Baptist missionary- Christians, Shomeri Shabbos-—She never tried to bring me to Jesus, never, but only sympathized with me because we were the only two kids in the high school – who couldn’t attend the parties and games on Friday night!!

So my experience was that if you are for yourself , never ashamed of yourself and never bowed down, you are in. But I would want to see what other reactions others have. Not just anti semitism, but verbal or physical attacks, on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation.

Overseas, in Europe, Latin America, or Iran, or here in US

Doug Workman shared his experience growing up ,when he learned to stand his ground, and the bullies vanished.



Monday, November 21, 2022

Chayei Sarah=The Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron and the rights of acquisition by purchase, c 1800 BCE and c 1900 CE


Link to discussion Nov 19 https://youtu.be/ZCqvpwt5qS8

Chayei Sarah=The Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron and the rights of acquisition by purchase, c 1800 BCE and c 1900 CE


An interesting aside on the oldest Canaanite (pre-cursor to Hebrew) inscription in the oldest Canaanite( again, pre-cursor to Hebrew) alphabet- on, of all things, a comb to brush out lice,  reported just recently.  Estimated about the time of the Patriarchs.



A background on the Cave of Machpelah, Cave of the Patriarchs/Matriarchs.



Why did Abraham pay cold cash?



While preparing for a meeting with West Hollywood Planning Commission I noted this introduction:

Land Acknowledgment: "The West Hollywood Planning Commission acknowledges that the land on which we gather and that is currently known as the City of West Hollywood is the occupied, unceded, seized territory of the Gabrieleño Tongva and Gabrieleño Kizh peoples."

This has become increasingly popular in North American settings. It also smacks of false virtue, and there are voices from indigenous Americans saying so:

Land acknowledgments are a classic culture-war issue, Nick Estes, an American-studies professor at the University of New Mexico, told me via email. They can be “a pantomime of caring or outrage mostly by professional class elites and educational institutions.” Meanwhile, he asked, what of “the real issues facing Indigenous peoples—housing, employment, child removal, generational poverty, lack of adequate healthcare, police violence, racism, and erasure; in other words, real colonialism”? https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/against-land-acknowledgements-native-american/620820/

That allows the political and corporate entities to then go about their business, which is making business, while feeling good about it.


 If anyone should know about erasure of history, it is we, Jews, who were erased from the land of Israel and our name for the land taken away from us.

How does this tie into Abraham and the burial of Sarah.?

Here is the story in short: Gen 23

Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites, saying,

[Who are the Hittites? One of the seven peoples under the rubric of “ Canaan”: Canaanites the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Jebusites and the Perizzites.

Hittites- presumably southern most elements of the ancient Hittite Empire, based in Anatalia ( Turkey) that was at its peak. An Indo-European language, rather than Semitic. Other Indo-Europeans- the Philistines, from which Palestine-the Greek islands). Indicates that there was not one people “Cannanites” but multiple groups of people]


“I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.”

And the Hittites replied to Abraham, saying to him,

“Hear us, my lord: you are the elect of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold his burial place from you for burying your dead.”

[It would seem to be a free gift]

Thereupon Abraham bowed low to the landowning citizens[Am HaAretz]. the Hittites,

and he said to them, “If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst.”

Ephron was present among the Hittites; so Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, the assembly in his town’s gate saying,

“No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.” [ Give- does he really mean it? Or is it a vacant gesture, like the token acknowledgement I mentioned above].

Then Abraham bowed low before the landowning citizens,

and spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the landowning citizens, saying, “If only you would hear me out! Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” [He recognizes that “ free” is a mere formality= there is no free lunch.

And Ephron replied to Abraham, saying to him,

“My lord, do hear me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between you and me? Go and bury your dead.” [Apparantly well over the asking price]

Abraham accepted Ephron’s terms. Abraham paid out to Ephron the money that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites—four hundred shekels of silver at the going merchants’ rate.

So Ephron’s land in Machpelah, near Mamre—the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field—passed

to Abraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of the assembly in his town’s gate.


Why negotiate?

It’s his. Why did he not insist on it as his right?

 Afterall. God had only a few years before promised him the land:

Gen 15

On that day יהוה made a covenant with Abram: “To your offspring I assign this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”) more than 7 nations)

Gen 17

I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God.”

Why not seize the land?

It’s not yet his by right-therefore, he gets rights only by buying it, or by developing it ( rights to the well at Beer Sheva from the Philistines, and a binding treaty.)

Back to gen 15

And [God] said to Abram, “Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth.

As for you,
You shall go to your ancestors in peace;
You shall be buried at a ripe old age.

And they shall return here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”[Amorite- a collective term for western, north west semitic peoples.]

What is their great sin? We are not told.

What is the underlying premise:

Go back to Flood story- all nations one, theypton break up, and can no longer understand each other- in the study of pre-history and antiquity, use the term “ Ursprache”.For example- the Indo-European languages- from English to Persian to Hindi- stem from a common ancestral language. Similarly, Semitic—Arabic, Aramaic,ancient Babylonian & Akkadian—as well as the related “ Hamitic languages-Egyptian, North and central African languages. Similar grammar features, similar core words.

Reflects idea of a common origin of humanity that has moved out and settled in different places. No one nation is inherently indigenous. All nations in constant flux- langauge, speech, culture shifts.

Reflected in words of Prophet,

Amos=Ch 9

To Me, O Israelites, you are
Just like the Cushites [indicating-far and very different in appearance-it makes no difference]
—declares the LORD.
True, I brought Israel up
From the land of Egypt,
But also the Philistines from Caphtor[ the eastern Mediteranean]
And the Arameans from Kir [location in Mesopotamia-form which they moved west to Syria]

all the nations pawns on God’s chess table.The idea of conditionality- right to be on the land- permeates the Torah and esp Deuteronomy.

Go back to purchase by Abraham

Idea that we had to acquire rights rather than take by force- we were aware that we were aliens in our own land. The Greeks,as we know them, were aliens in Greece[ replaced the original Mycenaen civilization]

The Hindu Indo-Aryans- were late comers to India- replaced the much older Indus valley civilizations.

What’s the difference- I believe ancient Israelites were very conscious of this, and constantly asked,” Why are we here?”By what right.?

It was asked by other. Rashi, commentary on Gen 1:

For should the peoples of the world say to Israel, “You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan”, Israel may reply to them, “All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. When He willed He gave it to them, and when He willed He took it from them and gave it to us” (Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 187).

An ancient argument-why does rashi bring this source here? Here is sitting in Central Europe, the Christians and the Muslim are fighting over the Holy Land, and he is reminding his children and grandchildren- It is ours from the scratch.

Going back to the land- the constant argument- Listim atem- You are thieves- the rejection of any right. But go back to a century ago, before there was a state of Israel, before there was an Israeli armed forces that could beat back six invading armies and push back the native Palestinian Arab uprising. Back to when the land was under colonial control of the Ottoman Empire (later British). The land is bought, dunam po, dunam sham. A 1,000 square meters( still in use, an Ottoman term) .ownership= land registry-tabu= also Turkish.

What did we buy up?

An example from the period of the 1930’s



Eliahu Epstein summed up the problems and prospects for Jewish land purchase in the wake of Arab violence in the mid-1930s, and the recently published British policy statement, the July 1937 Peel Report, suggested the division of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.

 Epstein’s summary of the special JNF-sponsored meeting reveals that more Arab offers to sell land existed than there were Jewish funds available to make those purchases. This discrepancy allowed the Zionists to make critical choices regarding which land areas would be best to acquire. Jewish land ownership itself was important, but not as vital as acquiring land to satisfy a particular strategic requirement, and to have it settled by recent or future immigrants. The discussion revealed agreements on both priorities, which included buying land along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv corridor in order to connect Jewish presence in Jerusalem to Jewish areas in the coastal plain, in the north of Palestine near the strategic port of Haifa and lands that were in close proximity to the headwaters of the Jordan River. Buying land outside the boundaries of the proposed Jewish state was considered another priority so that ‘facts on the ground’ could be established and hopefully enlarge the imminent Jewish state. The evolving strategic land purchase policy reinforced a commitment to broaden contiguous blocks of Jewish-owned land, and not to acquire land in a helter-skelter fashion based on religious or philosophical motivations to settle in all the Land of Israel. The Zionist leaders who participated in this meeting reasoned that once land was securely in Jewish hands, the British might amend projected borders to include said land within the Jewish state. Creating facts on the ground was a land purchase priority.



Epstein summarized this critical discussion. His letter was then dispatched to Zionist decision-makers in Palestine and a few key Zionists abroad, informing them of “land politics.” Knowing that Arabs wanted to sell their lands had three important consequences: first, it reinforced the Zionist leadership’s commitment to find ways to acquire land; second, it allowed important decisions to be made about what lands would best suit the strategic needs of the growing Jewish National Home; and finally, it strengthened overall Zionist political resolve by highlighting the contradiction between public Arab demands to halt the Jewish national home and private Arab behavior. Within two years of this meeting, the British imposed immigration and land transfer restrictions on the development of the Jewish state. Evidence provided from the Jewish National Fund’s directorate minutes from the 1940s indicates that Arab offers to sell did not appreciably abate, allowing Zionists to choose land needs based on strategic priorities.                                                                                                      

–Ken Stein, April 2010 


There is here, drawn a clear line from Abraham’s purchase of a field and a cave, and the rebirth of the Land and State of Israel.


Sunday, November 13, 2022

Abraham, the tent dweller,versus Sodom, the Urbanites Reflections of Kristallnacht and Veterans Day


Portion of Vayera

Abraham, the tent dweller,versus Sodom, the Urbanites

Reflections of Kristallnacht and Veterans Day

The Shabbat discussion is on this link:


 I opened my remarks with this article in the Jewish Journal about our friend, Joe Alexander, who is soon marking his 100th birthday and till today speaks to youth about his experieces during the Holocaust:


I also highlighted this news interview with Joe regarding the vile comments by Ye( Kanye) on Jews:


It lead directly into the discussion.

 This past Wednesday marked what we Jews refer to as Kristallnacht- German Reichspogromnacht or NovemberPogrom( a more blunt and honest description)

Nov 9-10, 1038

Then, we marked Veteran’s Day, in honor of our US veterans, but originally Armistice Day. To mark end of WWI- the War to end all wars, the War to Make the world safe for Democracy.

Such sad irony, that WWI led to WWII, for a variety of causes, but surely, one inevitable factor, that Hitler successfully used blaming the Jews to rise to power, and the world leaders failed to stop him in then persecuting Jews. Kristallnacht was a warning to the world what hatred of one’s fellow can lead to, the Jew as the canary in the coal mine.


The Jew as the eternal alien, the one commonality of hatred across Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, Christian and Moslem civilizations, through antiquity and into modernity, even into secular and anti-religious governments, as Germany and the USSR. But, while Jews aren’t everywhere, some people will always be picked out somewhere as targets of the frustrations and failures of the general masses of humanity

Here, in contrast, we have the figure of Abraham, who is to be “ a blessing to the world”, who is to be the spiritual father of the three Abrahamic religions .

Abraham, open tent, greeting wanderers, in contrast- the urbanites of Sodom, who seek to rape  the strangers in their walls.

Bedouin of the desert- three and a third day rule: The guest must be made comfortable and cared for three and a third days. Even if he is an enemy who has come seeking shelter.( the next day, the two can go back to fighting!)  That tradition is well known in the Abraham accounts.

We have the story of Sodom- what happens when we become urbanized, we have more than enough- instead of becoming generous, we abuse those in need of help.

The Torah is not just denouncing the people of Sodom- it is a veiled reference to the people of Israel—made explicit in the story  of the concubine of Gibeah; Judges 19

The man is a Levite from Ephraim, the concubine from Judah.


11 When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night.”

12 His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.” 13 He added, “Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places.” 14 So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. 15 There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night.


Judg 19:17 He happened to see the wayfarer in the town square. "Where," the old man inquired, "are you going to, and where do you come from?" 19:18 He replied, "We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the other end of the hill country of Ephraim. That is where I live. I made a journey to Bethlehem of Judah, and now I am on my way to the House of YHWH, and nobody has taken me indoors. 19:19 We have both bruised straw and feed for our donkeys, and bread and wine for me and your handmaid, and for the attendant with your servants. We lack nothing." 19:20 "Rest easy," said the old man. "Let me take care of all your needs. Do not on any account spend the night in the square." 19:21 And he took him into his house. He mixed fodder for the donkeys; then they bathed their feet and ate and drank.

What happens next:

22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”

Here is where it gets brutal:

23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.


Note, the contrast , that the Levite and his concubine would not spend the night with aliens, Jebusites, and then be brutalized by their own Israelites.


Let’s go back to Abraham, and how we can read his “ open tent” policy”


Why is Abraham to be the father of many nations?

We see how the Bible text hints at, and then Rabbinic tradition makes explicit= the sanctity of the human being.


וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א וְה֛וּא יֹשֵׁ֥ב פֶּֽתַח־הָאֹ֖הֶל כְּחֹ֥ם הַיּֽוֹם׃ יהוה


God appeared* to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot.

When does this happen? The sentence before, Abraham has just been circumcised. Therefore he is sitting, while God appears, hence,. He can’t get up. So Rabbinc comments, “God comes to visit, to teach us “ bikur cholim”.

(בראשית יח, א) וירא אליו ה' באלוני ממרא והוא יושב פתח האוהל כחום היום מאי כחום היום אמר רבי חמא בר' חנינא אותו היום יום שלישי של מילה של אברהם היה ובא הקב"ה לשאול באברהם הוציא הקב"ה חמה מנרתיקה כדי שלא יטריח אותו צדיק באורחים Baba Metzia 87a

It is the 3rd day, and he is healing. God mad ethe sun glow hot, so there would be  no travelers to bother Abraham.


וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֤רׇץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃

Looking up, he saw three figures standing near him. Perceiving this, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground,

We, the readers, know they are angels. Does Abraham know that?


וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנָ֗י אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ אַל־נָ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר מֵעַ֥ל עַבְדֶּֽךָ׃

 he said, “My lords!* If it please you, do not go on past your servant.

Who is Adonay( My Lords)  here?

Who is Abraham talking to?

Adonay-My Lord( plural for singular, as honorific)

If God appears to Abraham, with YHWH, and Abraham answers” My Lord-Adonay”, the Implication is God, and he is asking God to allow him to greet the strangers.

But , literal text,he is addressing the lead angel .

Hence, Rashi


'ויאמר אדני אם נא וגו AND HE SAID, MY LORD, IF NOW etc. — He addressed himself to the Chief of them; calling them all “lords”, (אדני may mean “my lords”), whilst to their Chief he said “Do not I pray thee pass away”, for he knew that if he would not pass by, his companions would certainly remain with him. In this explanation the word אדני has a “profane” sense (does not refer to God, being merely a term of address, “Sirs”) .


Another explanation is that the word is “holy” (referring to God): he asked God to wait for him whilst he ran and invited the travelers. For although this is written after the words “and he ran to meet them”, yet the conversation took place beforehand.


What is the basis for this double entendre?

Ein Yaakov, Shevuot 4:9 כָּל שֵׁמוֹת הָאֲמוּרִים בַּתּוֹרָה בְּאַבְרָהָם, קֹדֶשׁ, חוּץ מִזֶּה שֶׁהוּא חֹל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: (בראשית י״ח:ג׳) "וַיֹּאמַר: אֲדֹנָי אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ". (חנניה) [חֲנִינָא] בֶּן אֲחִי רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר הַמּוֹדָעִי אָמְרוּ: אַף זֶה קֹדֶשׁ. כְּמַאן אַזְלָא הָא דְּאָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה, אָמַר רַב: גָּדוֹל הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים יוֹתֵר מֵהַקְבָּלַת פְּנֵי שְׁכִינָה, כְּמַאן? כְּאוֹתוֹ הַזּוּג.

All the terms used in the Torah “ Adonay”My Lords, refer to God, sacred, except where clearly intended for general use, such as in this case of Abraham talking to the visitors. Said  in the name of Rabbi Chananyah..in the name of R. Elazar Hamodai,” Even here, it is the divine name, because hosting guests is as greater than receiving God’s presence.


So we learn the sanctity of the human- if the human is sick, even God pays a visit; if the human is sick, he sits, while God stands. If the human is lost and hungry, God waits, till we feed the human. If we see three humans wandering in the heat if the day, we see the presence of God.


Hence, the great contrast with Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain, land of wealth and abundance, that becomes a Dead Sea.