Times: Shabbat starts tonight with candle lighting at 7:30pm, and ends Saturday night at 8:30pm. The weekly Torah portion is Vayeira

Mincha in the CBD: Whisky and Kugel Fridays is on today at 1.30pm (mincha 1.45pm) using the SMS system to confirm numbers. Mincha (Mon-Fri) continues next week at 1.45pm with the SMS reminder.

Study: The Wednesday shiur & lunch continues this week at Billing Bureau, beginning at 1.20pm with mincha to follow at 1:45pm.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Rabbi Chezkel Deren. In this week’s Torah reading, Avraham is given enormous credit for the fact that when he is informed of Sodom’s imminent destruction, he petitions G-d on behalf of the city. The Torah’s opening description of Avraham’s pleas begins with the word “ויגש” – “and he approached”.

This seems like an oddly placed metaphor: considering that Avraham and G-d were in middle of a conversation, as it were, and that Avraham was “still standing before the Lord” why exactly did he have to approach?
The commentator Rashi points us to the fact that the term “ויגש” is used in the context of a fighter (Yoav) advancing towards a war. As if to say, that as part of his efforts on behalf of Sodom, Avraham “spoke harshly”, he spoke militantly to advance the cause.

This teaches us the lengths to which Avraham was willing to go in the effort to ensure the welfare of his fellow man. He was even willing to abandon his own natural disposition – he is after all the embodiment of kindness, i.e. sensitivity – and to speak harshly, because he thought it might help. That’s a model of kindness we should learn from.

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