Insights into “Word Concepts” in Torah: Li-Maher-To hasten

The Torah Portion of Vayeira Genesis 18:1-22:24

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Discovering Torah
Discovering Torah
צילום: PR

We are struck with the use of one word-concept used again and again in this week's Torah portion ( VaYeira) .With the repetition we understand that the  Torah is emphasizing  the critical importance of Li-Maher-To Hasten. It seems to be defining “Haste” as an  ideal.

That notion, though, seems to go against the declaration in proverbs "It is also not good that a soul be without knowledge, and he who hastens with his feet sins."(Proverbs 19:2)

Of  Abraham we read  the following Abraham e is resting in the shade of his tent and recuperating from the circumcision, when he sees three travelers;

And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground.( Genesis 18:2) .

Following this we read;

And Abraham hastened ( VaYiMaher) to the tent to Sarah, and he said, "Hasten ( Mahari) three seah of meal [and] fine flour; knead and make cakes."And to the cattle did Abraham run, and he took a calf, tender and good, and he gave it to the youth, and he hastened ( VaYiMaher) to prepare it.( ibid 6:7)

When Hashem asks Avraham to bring his son as an elevated offering we read:

And He said, "Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you."         And Abraham arose early in the morning, and he saddled his donkey, and he took his two young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for a burnt offering, and he arose and went to the place of which G-d had told him.( ibid 22:2-3) .

This characteristic of “jumping forward to act” and “rushing to achieve”  is an important characteristic of Abraham. When Eliezer looks for a wife for Abraham's son Isaac he is clearly trying to find someone with the characteristics of Avraham.

 As he waits by a well to find the appropriate woman he turns to G-d with the following request; “And he said, "O Lord, the G-d of my master Abraham, please cause to happen to me today, and perform loving kindness with my master, Abraham." (Genesis 24:12)

When he sees Rebecca the following ensues:

And the servant ran toward her, and he said, "Please let me sip a little water from your pitcher." 18And she said, "Drink, my lord." And she hastened( VaTiMaher)  and lowered her pitcher to her hand, and she gave him to drink. And she finished giving him to drink, and she said, "I will also draw for your camels, until they will have finished drinking." And she hastened, ( VaTiMaher) and she emptied her pitcher into the trough, and she ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. .( Ibid: 17-20)

Avraham's servant was overwhelmed;

“And the man was astonished at her, standing silent, [waiting] to know whether Hashem had caused his way to prosper or not”.( Ibid:21)

Not only was he witnessing loving kindness but he was watching it done with the same hurried zeal , he had experienced with Abraham.

What is the message that is conveyed here? Is haste a virtue or a trap?

All of mankind is beset with a tendency that becomes especially pronounced when we are moving ahead on a belief and a promise. Procrastination becomes the enemy of vision. Yet the act of waiting has become  so prevalent and is even  well accepted. In the words of Mark Twain “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well”.

Yet putting things off inevitably robs us of opportunity and chips away at the resolve to move forward. Avraham develops a trait that avoids that pitfall.

When Avraham is recuperating from the rite of the circumcision we read the following;

Yet Limaher-to Hasten was to be a critical quality of Avraham. When faced with a task, regardless of how uncomfortable , painful or ominous, Avraham hurries to seize the opportunity.

When he is told that his nephew Lot had been captured in a war we read; "And Avram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, and he armed his trained men, those born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and he pursued [them] until Dan."( ibid 14:14) Without hesitation

When Hashem asks Avraham to bring his son as an elevated offering we read of the same zealous haste

"Early the next morning Avraham got up and loaded his donkey. (ibid  22:3 ) In spite of the pain and sorrow Avraham did not hesitate and seized every opportunity to do what needed to be done.

True love is expressed by the quickened stepping forth to fulfill the Beloved’s wishes. That was true of Abraham;

“But you, Israel My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, who loved Me,”( Isaiah 41:8)

That is true of the Beloved in the song of Solomon:"Hark! my beloved! behold, he cometh, Leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."(Song of Songs 2:8 )

Our relationship with our Creator is one of love and obedience. “And now, Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask of you but to fear Hashem your G-d, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve Hashem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul,”( Deuteronomy 10:12)

That love is expressed by the resolve to step into the opportunity with haste and resolve.

In a world where sitting on the fence and declaring "I'm good" is the accepted norm, Avraham teach us all to step in and seize the moment. Otherwise the moment may disappear and the resolve can melt away.

Hillel the elder says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14)

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Esther