In our Parsha this week, we find Avraham is visited by three malachim after his bris. But there is something funny from the start. Why were there three malachim if there were really four things to do? Rashi teaches us that one angel was supposed to heal Avraham, one angel was supposed to bring good news to Sarah about having a baby, and one was to turn over Sodom. We find that the one that told Sarah the good news left. However, the one that came to heal Avraham, then stays back and goes on to save Lot from Sodom! Why does one angel take two missions? Why not just send four angels for the four jobs instead of three?
Perhaps we can answer that Hashem sent three and not four, because it represents three stages of existence. The past, present, and future. The angel who came to heal Avraham was healing him from the bris that he had in the past, which enabled him to be sealed as a complete Jew. His whole life was a build up to the moment of the bris milah. Avraham grew up in a house of idols. His father owned an idol shop. He was told to leave his home and birthplace and to set out for a foreign land. He was given many tests and struggles. He wasn't sure of his true identity - at least not until he entered into the agreement with Hashem. By the bris, Avraham finally knew who he was. The angel who came to destroy Sodom symbolized the fixing of the present - by making the world a better place by removing pure evil, which was Sodom. We see that Avraham couldn't even find one tzadik who lived there that would make it worthy to save. The angel who came to tell Sarah the bracha that Hashem would give in the coming year, signifies the future. Yitzchak was a continuation of the Jewish legacy, and ensured that the flame that Avraham brought to the world would stay lit.
There once was Jewish man living in the Bronx who was driving late at night on his way home from a long day at work. He was hurrying to get home to his family, all the while trying to keep his eyes open from a long day. Before he knew what happened, the man was cut off by another car driving wildly at an intersection. The man got into a bad accident and hit his head hard on the steering wheel, since the airbag didn't work. After what seemed like a never ending day, Hatzalah was called in because people were worried that he hit his head too hard. While sitting in the hospital waiting to get a scan of his head, it seemed like the day couldn't have gone any worse. He only wanted to get home, eat a good dinner, and go to sleep, and here he was in the hospital waiting to get his head x-rayed. After waiting for a very long time, the doctor came out and told the man that his head was OK from the accident, but they noticed what looked like a very small tumor in his head and they wanted to check it out immediately. After a few doctors came in and looked over the x-rays, he was rushed into surgery to remove the tumor. After what seemed like the longest day in the history of the world, the doctors came in and told him that he is an extremely lucky man. The tumor they found had been small enough that they could easily remove it, making sure it was completely gone. Only a few days later did he find out how truly lucky he was. What they found in the lab was that the tumor had been located in a very sensitive spot in his brain and was growing at a dangerous rate. Had he gone much longer without taking care of it, the tumor would have caused much more serious complications. What may seem like the worst thing in the world, could very well be a gift from G-d.
There were three really bad things that happened in our Parsha with the story of the malachim. Avraham and Sarah never had a child of their own, Avraham was in a lot of pain from the Bris, and Sodom was destroyed. However, we always must remember that things that seem bad are really just smoke and mirrors. Even in these three bad things, there is always a context involved. Every time in our lives when something happens, we have to think - is this really bad? Is it Hashem reaching out to us? How does this affect our past, present, and future? The bris milah that brought Avraham so much pain, was in reality, a huge bracha that allowed Avraham to complete his Jewish identity. Sodom's destruction ended up being a positive note to make the world better. The pain from not having children was in reality an opportunity for Sarah to daven and receive the Bracha that would enable them to carry on the Jewish future.
~ Moshe is a first year student at Lev ZIon, and is originally from Brooklyn, NY.