Well, it’s been a long 24 years for Abraham since last parsha when he left his homeland, traveled thousands of miles, split from his nephew, waged war with various enemies, had a child with his concubine and made an eternal covenant with God that involved the painful ritual of circumcision. If there ever was a man in need of care, Abraham is he! And wouldn’t you know it, three men appeared to him-a real Godsend.
In fact, this weeks parsha, Vayera, speaks as if those three men who appeared by Abraham’s tent on that hot desert day of recovery were God. “And God appeared to him at the terebinth’s of Mamre.” Our tradition teaches that God’s visit to Abraham while he recovers from his surgery is the first instance of Bikor Cholim, the mitzvah of visiting the sick.
This week, our Torah portion came alive in a very real way. First, the Obama administration has declared that November is National Family Caregivers month. The proclamation declares that family members, friends and neighbors dedicate themselves to providing care to relatives and loved ones. Then, Rabbi Nevarez and I hosted the Westchester Board of Rabbis meeting at TST and the topic of discussion was chaplaincy and inspiring all of us, rabbis and congregants alike, to participate in this mitzvah. We have a wonderful caring community at TST that makes phone calls, delivers means and truly cares for the ill and needy among us. There is a real need all over Westchester for programs and services to those who are ill or elderly or frail. We hope to expand this group and to offer Bikor Cholim in hospitals and nursing homes in the Northern Westchester area. As we move forward to enlist and engage volunteers, we will offer training, support, and resources. Stay posted for more information.
God and Abraham, and the rabbis who understood their actions to be those of Bikor Cholim, gave us a gift on that hot desert afternoon. They showed us one of the first acts of Divine and human kindness, and it is one we can all do ourselves. Indeed this is a way to fulfill the words God spoke to Abraham at the beginning of their relationship- v’heyeh bracha, be a blessing. Shabbat Shalom.