“The Pain of Abraham” by Prof. Gerald August

Nov 11th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships
It was the third day after Abraham was circumcised and he was in pain. So how do we explain what he does? He saw men approaching his tent. He ran to greet them and bowed before them. He ran to tell Sarah to make cakes, and again ran to take a calf to be slaughtered for a meal. He then carried the meal to the men and stood by them as they ate, in case they needed something else.

Wait a minute. What about the pain? Did it magically disappear?

The answer is one I experienced years ago. I was visiting a friend in the hospital, and he was in bad shape. During the first 20 minutes of my visit, he was in discomfort and hardly spoke. I was distressed. But then I asked if he wanted to hear an idea I had on the Torah reading. After saying my part, he began, in an animated voice, telling me his thoughts on the Torah reading. He became a different person. After 5 minutes, his wife looked at me in astonishment, and I gave her the same look. This was the antidote. He was focused on something he was passionate about, and he ignored or did not notice his discomfort.

Abraham did the same thing. The story also teaches us how to visit the sick and be helpful. Engage them in something that is their passion, and they will be their own pain killers.