Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Vayera - 5775

My friends,

This is the second portion telling us about our father Abraham. If you recall from last week, Avram was told to leave his birthplace, land and home and go to the land which G-d will show him. He will become a blessing and the land will be given to his descendants. Before that command to leave, nothing was said about Abraham, his youth, background or events in his life that would explain why he was chosen by G-d.

This week's Parasha begins with a story of Abraham offering hospitality to three total strangers. He was sitting by the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day (probably to cool down), and he lifts up his eyes and sees three strangers walking thru the desert. He runs towards them and asks them to come and sit under the tree while he brings them some water to wash their feet and some bread to revive themselves. That does not sound like much. It would seem that any kind, normal human being would do such a thing. But then the Torah describes how he rushes to Sarah and to his helpers and tells them to prepare a full meal for these strangers.

Our sages describe Abraham as the man of Chesed - kindness. They tell us that anyone who does not show compassion to others is not a descendant of Abraham.

In our modern urban life, this type of hospitality is far from our everyday life. But notice the words 'Vayissa Einav' - 'he lifted his eyes - looked up' and saw the three men. If we only look up we will see that there are many in need of our kindness. The homeless, the sick, the unemployed, the lonely people, etc.

Abraham teaches us that the most important Mitzvah we can fulfill is to practice acts of kindness. Show that you are a descendant of Abraham - perform acts of kindness.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram