Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » Vayera

Vayera: Parallel Realities

Submitted by on November 13, 2005 – 2:00 amNo Comment | 32,206 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.