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For the Jewish people, one of the hallmarks of our great founding parents was their ability to maintain communication with their Creator.  God, so to speak, was a constant living presence in their lives, thoughts and actions. And they were able to hear God’s voice, though God has no voice, and to visualize God even though God has no physical appearance. God spoke to them through the inner voice of their own souls which was always longing to reunite with the source of life from which it came.

When the stranger/angel guest informs Avraham and Sarah about the forthcoming birth of their son, this serves to confirm to Avraham the promise that he heard from God earlier regarding the same event. Previously Avraham heard it through his own inner voice of faith and attachment to God and now he and Sarah hear it in a literal sense, from the lips of the stranger/angel who stands before them in their tent.
Midrash explains and reinforces this idea of hearing God through one's own soul and spirit. When Moshe was sent on his mission to redeem Israel from Egypt and to teach them Torah, he heard that call emanate from Heaven in the voice of his father Amram.
We hear God, so to speak, through familiar voices that reverberate within our soul and heart. First, Avraham himself believes that he will have a son with Sarah and later he has no doubts when that message is communicated to him by the stranger/angel.
Sarah, on the other hand, who did not spiritually “hear” these tidings beforehand, casts doubt and wonderment at the words of the stranger/angel. Avraham is made aware of this and explains to Sarah the source of her consternation.
I feel that many times in our lives we sense within ourselves a divine message and voice. It is this combination of soul and intellect that drives all human hopes forward. But, since we are not at the level of constant communication with our soul and our Creator, we do not always hearken to that voice nor do we attribute it to its correct source.
Jewish tradition teaches us that somehow the prophet Elijah appears regularly and constantly to human beings. He comes in different guises, forms and costumes. The truly righteous are able to identify him when he appears while we ordinary human beings are mostly unaware of his presence even as he stands before us.
Avraham, in his righteousness and faith, is constantly prepared for such encounters with God. Ordinary human beings, to whom God is at best an abstract idea, certainly are unable to truly sense His presence. That is what the great rebbe of Kotzk meant when he said that when God said: “Go forth from your land and home and family” any human being had the potential to hear that message, not just Avraham. But unless one is attuned to “hear” God regularly through one's own inner soul, all heavenly messages will fall on deaf ears.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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