A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 11/3/17
At the beginning of the parasha, Abraham is sitting at the opening of his tent. He’s recently fulfilled the mitzvah of brit milah, the covenant of circumcision. Abraham looks up and sees three men approaching him. What does he do? He gets up and runs to greet them and then invites them into his home to share food and lodging.
He gets up and runs? At the age of 99? Just after his circumcision??
This teaches us that Abraham was so eager to show hospitality to his guests, that his own infirmities were of no concern to him.
Abraham was an exemplar of the mitzvah of “Hachnasat Orchim,” offering hospitality to others. He went out of his way to make others feel at home.
We all can imagine what it feels like to be a stranger – whether it’s moving to a new town or entering an unfamiliar synagogue for the first time. When a neighbor greets us with a smile and invites us over for coffee, we naturally feel more at home. When an unfamiliar visitor comes to a Shabbat service, and, instead of ignoring him, he is greeted and made to feel welcome, then that newcomer identifies the congregation as a warm and friendly place.
It doesn’t really take much effort to practice “Hachnasat Orchim.” It just requires a little extra awareness. Right from the very beginning of our religion, we have been taught to welcome others into our homes and places of worship. Let us learn from Abraham’s example and show kindness to the stranger in our midst.