Naturally Beyond Nature (Vayera)
The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding. -Francis Bacon
When Abraham reached the age of 99, God commands him to circumcise himself. Abraham obeys God’s will. According to the Midrash, before the actual circumcision, he consults with his friends, Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre. Mamre is the only one who enthusiastically advises Abraham that he should, of course, follow God’s instructions.
According to the Chidushei HaRim on Genesis 18:1, Abraham faced a dilemma regarding the circumcision. He was concerned that by circumcising himself he would be separating himself from the rest of mankind, which might make it harder for him to connect with other people, for other people to connect with him and for him to be effective in his life’s work of bringing people to greater kindness, awareness and greater proximity to God. It was already a tremendous effort for Abraham to descend from his exalted spiritual level to connect with the idolaters of his day. But at least they were on the same physical plane. If he would be circumcised, he would no longer be of the same nature as the rest of men, in a sense, he would be beyond nature.
Part of Abraham’s motivation in asking his friends for their opinion is that by involving them in his decision, they would remain attached to him, even after his circumcision.
The Chidushei HaRim expands on Mamre’s recommendation to circumcise. Mamre tells Abraham that it is man’s obligation to attempt (where appropriate) to perform feats that are beyond nature. Because God bends the rules of nature when dealing with Abraham, it is Abraham’s duty to reciprocate and reach beyond nature in serving God.
Furthermore, reaching beyond nature draws life and sanctity directly from God and spreads it to all of nature and the entire world. Going beyond nature is the catalyst for the operation of nature. It is the hidden engine of the natural order.
Because of Mamre’s insight, support and enthusiasm, he merited that the events of Abraham’s circumcision should occur and be attributed to his location, “Elonei Mamre,” and be perpetually remembered. He also drew from the sanctity of the event and was blessed. He was one of the first beneficiaries of God’s promise to Abraham that “those who bless you shall be blessed.”
May we see and reach beyond nature and always be a catalyst of blessings.
To the incalculable hospitality of the Vider family.