Sharing with No Desired Outcome
In the beginning of the portion Vayera, we’re told that three angels came to Abraham. Abraham, however, did not know they were angels; he thought they were three travelers, and fed them. It was the third day after Abraham’s circumcision, and he was in great pain; nevertheless, he pushed himself to share and create this meal for these guests. And from that action of sharing, the Zohar makes clear, came a tremendous amount of blessings.
One of the blessings that came from this, it says, and the great kabbalist Avraham Azulai also shares, was Abraham’s being led to discover the place we know as Machpelah, the location of the cave where the Patriarchs are buried. In the portion following Vayera, Chayei Sarah, Abraham buys this land to be the burial place for his wife, Sarah. It is later also the burial site for Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. But it is in this portion Vayera that Abraham was led to this land by chasing one of the calves he was going to use for the meal all the way to Machpelah; and this calf, it says, was actually an angel.
Furthermore, the Zohar and the Midrash tell us that because of the Light awakened by Abraham from his action of sharing, the Israelites lived for 40 years and were sustained by the manna in the desert. And we’re told that the ability for the Light of Immortality to be revealed, what’s called Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah, was also awakened through the action of Abraham in the portion Vayera.
Clearly, then, this was a very important action. However, the amazing thing we learn is that it was also a pointless action. Why? Because, as the Zohar says, angels don’t eat. So, all the food that Abraham spent hours preparing was for nothing; it actually says the angels had to pretend as if they were eating it. This is an incredible understanding: Abraham was not feeding people who were hungry, or even entities that could eat. As such, the action itself was completely unnecessary and had no desired effect.
My father, Rav Berg, would talk about how so often in life we desire a certain outcome, or for a certain reality to exist, as a result of our sharing action. But, we need to come to understand that what happens from the action is completely unimportant. The only thing that is important is the fact that we are awakening, and acting upon, a Desire to Share; whether it manifests one way or the other, or even has any real manifestation at all, makes absolutely no difference.
Often when we want to share with someone, and in a specific way, we focus on how we want them to feel about it, or the way we want them to react to it. Yet, now we realize all that is wrong; the reason we share is not necessarily because of the benefit received by the other person, but simply because we need to constantly be sharing and awakening that Desire to Share. By awakening that desire to share, regardless of how it manifests, where it manifests, or to whom it manifests, we draw an endless amount of blessings for ourselves.
One of the great gifts we receive from Abraham on Shabbat Vayera, therefore, is to let go of the desired effect we have for our actions of sharing. Instead, we share because we know that by doing so we connect to the Light of the Creator and draw blessings to ourselves. We can ask ourselves: Is my singular focus on awakening a Desire to Share and then acting upon it, regardless of how it manifests? If so, maintaining that purity of desire is what draws endless blessings into our lives. Like the Creator, we simply want to awaken a Desire to Share, as Abraham did, even though it may, as in his case, be for no purpose.