At the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Avraham invites three angels into his house and offers to feed them. He says in 18:5, “‘Viekcha Pat Lechem, Vesaadu Libchem’…Vayomru, ‘Kein Taaseh Kaasher Dibarta,’” “‘And I will get a morsel of bread, and you shall satisfy yourselves’…and they said, ‘Do so – as you said.’” He merely offers them a little bread, and they respond that this will be enough. However, later we see that Avraham serves the angels an elaborate and sumptuous meal, which includes homemade cakes and some of his best calf meat. Why, after they say they only want a small amount of food, does it make sense for Avraham to serve them so much food? All they said they needed was a piece of bread!
The Gemara in Bava Metzia explains that this is the quality of the righteous, who always go above and beyond what is required in the performance of Mitzvot. Avraham was the perfect example of this behavior. First of all, he did not have to invite the angels into his tent at all. He also could have just offered them a place to stay so that they could avoid the sweltering heat. Even when he provided them with food, he could have just given them a small piece of bread as he offered, and they would have been satisfied. Yet Avraham did as much as possible to completely fulfill the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim and accommodate his guests. To accomplish this goal, he did his best to provide them with everything they wanted. When he found that all they said they wanted was a little bread, he was afraid that they were being modest and did not want to cost him too much, and so had not informed him of what they truly wanted. Avraham therefore gave them much more than they requested. Avraham’s actions are a lesson not only in the importance of going out of our way to do Mitzvot, but also in the importance of not cutting corners when we do them. Like Avraham, we must find the best and most complete way to perform each Mitzvah.