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Home » Vayera

Vayera: Parallel Realities

Submitted by on November 13, 2005 – 2:00 am3 Comments | 30,527 views

Did It Happen?

In this week’s Parsha we read of a visit paid to Avraham by three angels for the purpose of informing Avraham and Sarah that they will at long last have a child.

In his Philosophical treatise, Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonidies maintains that this visit never transpired in real life but was a prophetic vision shown to Avraham.

Maimonidies sparked a storm of controversy with this statement triggering a sharp response from a variety of Jewish scholars. Chief among them was Nachmanidies, who staunchly supported the view that the visit transpired as an actual event. Nachmonidies declared that translating an episode of Torah as fantasy of prophetic vision borders on heresy.

Yes and No

We might suggest that this one event occurred simultaneously on two separate planes, the material reality of the here and now, and the spiritual reality of intangible prophecy. Nachmanidies’ disagreement with Maimonidies might be one of emphasis. Maimonidies sees in Torah an attempt to uplift the material into the spiritual. Nachmonidies sees Torah as a tool by which we draw the sanctity of the spiritual into the corporeality of the physical.

Musings of A Wandering Mind

Will we ever bridge the gap between Maimonidies the philosopher and Nachmanidies the mystic? We are certainly welcome to try but this may be one of those mysteries best left for Moshiach to unravel.



  • Anonymous says:

    Thank You Rabbi Lazer, I feel not only humbled, but also inspired that you share your immense wisdom and experience with us all. If it were not for you and what you were inspired to write I would never have felt the urge to write this in the first place, even though it might have remained inside me undiscovered for eternity.
    I prefer to believe that something beyond us both is at work here through us all. I wish you all good blessings that may be bestowed upon you.
    Ian Ward.

  • Anonymous says:

    If I understood you correctly – then I could not agree more.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why not both ? It appears that events and happenings occur on both planes anyway. For anything to happen upon the physical plane it must also have a sanction upon the spiritual plane. To deny this is to deny the presence of Angels and the Supreme Essence that guides and shapes everything we have ever known, or ever will know.
    To restrict our understanding of the admittedly impossible to fully understand is to indulge in egotistical foolishness. We are given that understanding which we need, not that which we wish for. Why ? Because our wishes are often of no real substance or long term nature. Therefore in being limited to what we really need to know we are at the same time being protected from our own lack of understanding and the mistakes that occur because we human beings refuse to accept this through arrogance and hubris.

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