Like many Jews in America, I sing Psalm 121. It’s part of the liturgy of our morning prayers.
Esa Einai el he'harim
me ‘Eayin yavo ezri?
Ezri me'im Adonai
Oseh shamaim va'aretz
I lift my eyes to the mountains
Where does my help come?
My help will come from God above
maker of all heaven and earth
I have always found comfort in this psalm because it serves as a reminder that God hears our cry when we cry for help. Last week, we learned that Avraham and Sarah have not been able to have a child, and they lifted their eyes and asked God for help. In this week’s Torah portion Vayera, we see Abraham sitting at the opening of his tent recovering from his circumcision, and God - Vayera - God appears to Abraham. Abraham lift’s his eyes and sees three men approach. Abraham doesn’t know that these men were actually angels, but Abraham understands the importance of hospitality and rushes to greet them and invites them in for a meal. And we later learn that because of his hospitality Abraham and Sarah are granted a child.
Next, Abraham learns of God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the people who live in those cities because they have become wicked. At that moment, Abraham lift’s his eyes to bargain with God to save innocent souls from destruction, including his nephew Lot.
Later in the text, we see Abraham putting his faith in God to the ultimate test as he begins to follow God’s instructions to sacrifice his son Isaac. And at the last moment, before Abraham is about to commit the most horrific of sacrifices, Abraham lifts his eyes, and God vayera - God appears, and his son Isaac is spared.
As modern people, we can learn a lot from Abraham’s hospitality. Today we sometimes forget the importance of hospitality. The men who approached Abraham’s tent were not wearing signs that said they were angels; I’d bet that as men walking in the hot desert, they may have looked more like homeless people than angels. The other night my wife and I were having a conversation about this text. She challenged me by reminding me that when strangers come to our door and ring the doorbell, I often refuse to answer because I’m concerned about people soliciting, and she said if I were Abraham, she didn’t believe I would let three strange men into our tent. I told her she had a good point, and I could do better and she’s right.
From this text, we can also learn a lot about faith. When we remember that no matter what challenges we face in our lives or our society, we can always lift our eyes to the heavens and ask where will my help come? And remember that our help comes from God, maker of all.