11.06 Partiality

Written by cheri

Sometimes there’s a nugget of wisdom bordered by powerful stories.

This week’s Torah portion, Vayera, presents us with this question: Why would Abraham argue with God when told that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed, but remains silent when asked to kill his own son?

Perhaps it’s an issue of partiality.

Abraham didn’t personally know most of those in the twin cities, and so argued for their lives as an act of justice.

When it came to his own son, however, Abraham wanted to prove to God he wouldn’t show partiality. He would treat his son as he would anybody.

But he errs in this way: by bending over backward to not show favoritism, he shows negative partiality. If how Abraham dealt with the Sodom and Gomorrah situation was any indication, he would have pleaded for the life of some else’s child. But not his own.

I compare this to the coach of a soccer team. His son is on the team, and so in order to show the other players that his son would not get favorable treatment, he actually comes down harder on him.

We want to be fair and impartial. But often, when it comes to our loved ones, we fail. And we end up not treating all of our children equally. And not teaching all of our students equally.

For better. Or for worse.

Rabbi David Vorspan

Rabbi David Vorspan

-Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residence