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Rabbi's Weekly Torah Thoughts

Torah Thoughts

DUST AND ASHES

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayera, God told Abraham about the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Like a defense attorney, he tried to save the inhabitants, protesting, “Will you destroy the righteous along with the wicked?!” (Genesis 18:23) He negotiated that even if there were only 10 good people in both locales, God would relent.

At one-point Abraham declared, “I am but dust and ashes.” (ibid. 18:27) Why did the patriarch use this specific image? A great 20th century rabbi, Joseph Soloveitchik, offered a brilliant insight.

There is a difference between dust and ashes. Dust represents something that is worthless but might one day be of value. You can sow plants in dust or make pottery from it. Ashes, on the other hand, are of no value in the future, but represent something that did have value in the past.

Abraham was referring both to what he had been and what he might become. In other words, Abraham brought his entire being to the task, and humbly, not for his own glorification but for the sake of the wellbeing of others, and for God’s reputation.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – my daughter is reading Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird for her English class. I’m reading it for a third time – it’s one of my favorite books. How is Atticus like Abraham?

Shalom,
Rabbi Pont

High Holiday Sermons

Yom Kippur 5780 - Rabbi Michael Pont - Antisemitism Continued

Kol Nidre 5780 - Rabbi Michael Pont - Antisemitism 

Rosh Hashanah 5780 - Rabbi Ron Koas - Making Wine

Watch the Rabbis' 5780 Sermons Online:

Kol Nidre 5780 - Rabbi Michael Pont - Kol Nidre Sermon

Yom Kippur 5780 - Rabbi Mihcael Pont - Yom Kippur Day Sermon

Rosh Hashanah 5780 - Rabbi Michael Pont - Teaching Your Child to Drive

Rosh Hashanah 5780 - Rabbi Ron Koas - Making Wine

Thu, November 21 2019 23 Cheshvan 5780