Seven people are called up to the Torah this week with an additional person for Maftir and Haftorah.
1st Aliya: Three angels disgused as men come to visit Avraham (Abraham) while he was recovering from his Brit Milah (Circumcision). They each have mission to bless Sarah to tell that she will give birth to a son, to rescue Lot before the destruction of Sodom and to destroy Sodom. Sodom was decreed by Hashem (G-d) to be destroyed because their whole society was institutionalised cruelty, selfishness and depravity particularly towards strangers.
2nd Aliya: Two angels depart to rescue Lot and destroy Sodom. Hashem (G-d) tells Avraham about His plans for destroying Sodom. Avraham intercede on their behalf asking Hashem that if there are 50 good people in the city would you destroy the wicked along with the righeous. Hashem says that if there are 50 good people n the city Sodom will not be destroyed. But there were not 50 good people in the city or even 45, or 40 or 10 so theywere beyond salvation like the generationof the Flood.
3rd Aliya: The story of the destruction of Sodom is described, Lot's generosity to the "two visitors" is rewarded and he, his wife, and only his two daughters were saved.
4th Aliya: Lot's wife looks back at the destruction of Sodom and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters escape into the mountains. Lot's daughters thinking that the whole world has bene destroyed seeks to rebuild humankind, by making their father drunk and taking advantage of Lot's drunkenness, they become pregnant from Lot leading to the birth of the two nations - Ammon and Moav. Avraham meets Abimelech. Sarah gives birth to Yitzchak.
5th Aliya: Yishmael and Hagar are forced out of Avraham's home. Hashem hears the cry of the dying lad and saves him, an angel reassures Hagar of Yishmael's destiny.
6th Aliya: Abimelech and his general Phichol resolve their conflict with Avraham over water rights, and they sign a covenant of peace at Be'er Sheva.
7th Aliya: When Avraham is 137 and Yitzchak was 37, Hashem tests Avraham's devotion by commanding him to sacrifice Yitzchak on the Temple Mount (Mt Moriah where the temple stood). Yitzchak is bound at the altar raises the knife to slaughter his son but a voice from heaven calls to stop him; a ram, caught in the undergrowth is offered in his son's place recognising his true devotion to Hashem.
In the year 3043 - 705 b.c.e. (approx) Elisha took over the mantle of prophecy from Eliyahu. Elisha served the Jewish people as their mentor and protector and like Avraham displayed kindness and compassion for others.
This week's Haftorah relates two miraculous events that he performed. The first story is about the widow of the Prophet Ovadya who according to the Chachamim (Sages) risked her life and spent her fortune to rescue, support and shelter hundreds of prophets from the sword of the evil Ahad and Jezebel. She was confronted with a creditor who wanted to take her children because she could not pay her debts. Elisha made a miracle that she had enough oil from her 'ever flowing' pitcher of oil so she had enough oil to pay off all her debts and make a decent living.
The second story is a Shunamite woman and her husband who were wealthy, G-d fearing people who generously provided for all who needed it but she was unable to conceive children. After being blessed with a son, the child dies and Elisha performs the miracle by resurrecting the child's life.
There are many messages in this week's Parsha
- the power and blessing of hospitality and helping and assisting people in time of need. Avraham and Sarah, Ovadya's widow and the Shunamit woman and her husband were themselves helped for the kindess they showed to others. Infact, Avraham interrupted a dialogue with Hashem so that he could attend to his guests. The Talmud in Gemorrah Shabbat 127(a) states that hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence because Hasehm saw that he was hurrying to serve G-Ds creatures hereby serving Hashem.
- trust in Hashem leads to miraculous events - Sarah giving birth at 90 years old, Ovadya's widow being helped and the Shunamis son being saved. All of these great people had trust in Hashem without any pre conditions.