Into Our Hearts If Not Our Homes
November 6, 2020
By Rus Devorah Wallen

I’m RD Wallen, and I’d like to share my T for 2, my Torah thought for 2 minutes, more or less 😉

This week’s installment is dedicated to my husband, Eliyohu Michoel ben Perel Wallen whose birthday was the 14th of Cheshvan which was Sunday. Thanks, Eli for putting up with me and all of my projects including this one. Additionally, I would like to dedicate this week‘s T for 2 to my mother, Chana bas Michoel may she rest in peace, whose yahrtzeit/commemoration of her passing, is this Friday, the 19th of Cheshvan.

This parsha is jam-packed with numerous episodes and adventures, including, blessings for a post-menopausal birth miracle, descriptions of wars, deceptions, plagues, R-rated movie-type events, including a sort of Bacchanalian episode with Lot and his daughters, escapes, expulsions, corruptions, Sodom and Gomorrah, curses, pacts and covenants, and all sorts of things.  Whew! Since the world we’re living in today is plenty dramatic, I’ll focus on something that’s a little bit more subdued, but I find fascinating.

Verse 33 of our portion says, “Vayita eshel b’Ve’r Shova, vayikra sham b’sheim Hashem Keil olam – And he (Avraham) planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.

Over 50 years ago, this Shabbos, The Lubavitcher Rebbe gave a discourse on these words, VaYitah Eshel the, focusing on the connection between the two parts of the verse, The “planting of an eshel in Beersheva” and Avraham’s “proclaiming the name of the L‑rd, G‑d of the world.” Our sages say, that this part of the verse has an alternate meaning, so, not that he proclaimed,” read it rather, “And encouraged others to proclaim.” The midrash says that Avraham was so kind and generous with hospitality, however, after they ate and drank, they rose to bless and thank him. But he would respond: “Did you partake of anything of mine? You ate what belongs to the G‑d of the world. Then, they would praise and give thanks to Hashem.

So, here is the connection that the Rebbe brings to connect the two clauses in our verse:

He planted or build an Eishel – The literal translation is Tamarisk which is a tree that has deep roots, provides shade, probably a Salt Cedar which actually provides. Some commentaries (I researched over close to 20) say it was a grove but most say that this Eishel was an inn, and particularly, since Avraham provided food, kindness or lodging to wayfarers. The commentators say, the word Eishel is an acronym for achilah, shtiah, and leviah (food, drink, and accompaniment)]5 — Avraham “caused the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, to be called forth from the mouths of every traveler.” This is what is meant by “he proclaimed the name of the L‑rd, G‑d of the world.”

Into Our Hearts If Not Our Homes - Jewish thought of the week graphic