This was honestly the first time since starting to write a weekly teaching about the Parsha that I didn’t know what to write about. I had a few ideas, but I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say about them. Then, after reviewing a parsha article which I translated a few years ago, I was reminded of some important qualities we learn from Avraham at the beginning of the parsha which can help us greatly in our lives- determination and patience. “Hashem appeared to him in the plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day.” (Chapter 18, Verse 1) On the third day after his circumcision, when the wound is most painful, G-d came to visit Avraham. To spare Avraham the physical stress of hosting guests at this difficult time, He created a strong heat wave which prevented people from travelling that day. Still, Avraham sat by the entrance of his tent longing for guests. (Artscroll commentary there)
Based on this verse, Rebbe Noson teaches that the language of sitting means being delayed for a long time. Avraham merited Hashem’s revelation because he sat and waited for a long time by the tent’s opening, which is the entrance to holiness. His whole life, since he was a small child, he was searching for truth and closeness to G-d. He was determined to serve Hashem despite the heat, despite being prevented and attacked by the evil inclination, and despite facing strong obstacles. Avraham was willing to wait for as long as it took and not give up. He knew that it’s impossible to come close to G-d in an instant, and that anything which is truly good in life takes time to achieve. Rebbe Noson adds that if a person settles his mind and thinks about his true purpose in this world, then he won’t ever turn back from trying to obtain a true connection with G-d. He is willing to sit and wait by the entrance for a long time, and even though it seems like he’s being pushed away and not being allowed to enter, nevertheless he doesn’t relent. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Marriage, 4th teaching, 19th paragraph)
Sometimes it seems like we’re never going to get there, we’re never going to reach the truth, faith, love and true happiness which we so badly want. To give a personal example: I want to be a good spouse and a good parent to my daughters, but many times I see that I fall short in being caring, being present or reacting with a negative emotion and losing my composure. How many times can I try to improve being more thoughtful and caring of my family, only to find myself falling short in different situations again and again? This is a difficult voice which I hear sometimes, but I know the only real choice is to learn from my mistakes and try again.
We don’t understand the ways of Hashem, but for sure everything he does is for our good and he is only trying to help us grow and come closer to him. The failures and tests which we go through are only there to help us build inside ourselves more will, resolve and patience. How long it takes to reach our goal is not in our control. The only part which is in our control is to choose to keep trying to do what we can, to try to make good choices, to pray to Hashem for help and guidance, and not to give in to the voices which tell us to turn around and give up. B’hatzlacha!