Chesed’s Value by Chanan Schnaidman


During his recuperation from his self-performed Berit Milah, Avraham wanted to perform acts of kindness without divine help. To help him, Hashem dispatched angels disguised as nomadic wayfarers to assist Avraham in fulfilling his desire to do Chesed. This made Avraham extremely happy, and once he saw them, he quickly ran toward them to greet them, as the Pasuk states, “VaYisa Einav VaYar VeHenei Shelosha Anashim Nitzavim Alav VaYar VaYarotz LiKratam MiPetach HaOhel VaYishtachu Artzah,” “He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold! Three men were standing over him, he perceived, so he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and bowed toward the ground” (BeReishit 18:2).

However, the three angels had additional missions aside from providing the righteous man with opportunities to perform acts of Chesed. Rashi explains that first angel came to announce to Sarah that she would have a son, the second came to heal Avraham, and the third came to destroy Sedom. The Midrash states that one angel cannot perform two designated mission; therefore, Hashem sent three angels to perform three different tasks. This explains why two of the Angels were at Avraham’s house; one had to tell Sarah about her son, and one had to heal Avraham, but why didn’t the third angel travel straight to Sedom in the first place? Why is it necessary for him to go to Avraham’s house?

Since Hashem wanted the angel to understand his role in destroying Sedom, He sent the angel to Avraham. Hashem told the angel that Sedom is a place that lacks kindness and must be destroyed.  For the angel to understand what true kindness is, he had to be in a place that contains true kindness, like Avraham’s household. By going to Avraham’s house, the angel is able to experience what real kindness was and understand why Sedom was destroyed.

We know that our actions have more meaning when we have a better understanding of the significance of the actions. When asked to do an assignment, such as those that involve Chesed, it is important to understand the value of the assignment we are performing. May we all be Zocheh to undertake many acts of Chesed like Avraham, and when doing so, we should comprehend the meaning behind the actions.

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