Weekly Cycle

Friday, November 12, 2010

Uriel in the Parasha, the Torah Portion of Vayerah

I am sitting in the Beis Midrash of Young Israel of Tampa, Beis Menachem, http://www.jewishusf.com, after receiving tremendous Hachnassat Orchim (the commandment of hospitality) from Rabbi Uriel Rivkin and his family. By the way the address here is 52nd street. :)

The parallels with the Weekly Parasha are very powerful, and Hashem, out of His infinite mercy, enlightened me with an answer to a question I had earlier this week, before I had any idea I'd be coming here, or that the Rabbi's name is Uriel. The question is as follows:

We know that the three angels who visited Abraham and Sarah were Micha'el, Gavri'el and Refa'el. Each had a special mission to accomplish, as Rashi explains. However, we know there are not three, but four archangels. Why was Uri'el not present? Why did he not have a particular mission that would entitle him to be a guest as well?

The answer is simple. Uriel was there all along! Uriel, which means G-d is my light, could be found in Abraham and Sarah's tent, as we also know that Sarah's Shabat lights remained lit from week to week, just like the Eternal Light (the Ner Tamid) of the Temple.

Furthermore, Uriel is in fact mentioned in this week's Parasha, in the very first verse, in the very first words. The portion begins: "Vayera Elav Hashem... VeHu Yoshev Petach HaOhel." "Vayera El," spelled, Vav Yud Resh Alef Alef Lamed, has the same letters of "Uri'el." Where exactly is Uriel? "Hu Yoshe Petach Ha'Ohel," he was living at the entrance of the tent, with Avraham and Sarah. The portion states in different places that both Avraham and Sarah were "Petach Ha'Ohel." This actually explains why the Torah makes a point of stating right after the first verse that Avraham ran to meet the guests "MiPetach HaOhel," from the entrance of the tent. The first verse is referring to Uriel! Otherwise, if it were just referring to Abraham, it would have been superfluous.

The practical lesson is that by having guests, not only do you merit receiving angels for that particular meal or occasion, but also the light of Hashem resides with you contnuously. Your house embodies Hashem's archangel, whose job is to guide us, to give us light, to enlighten us: the angel Uriel.

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