One of the virtues that permeates Avraham’s character is Chessed, kindness and generosity to others. Chessed is one of the three pillars that the world stands upon. Without Chessed, man cannot live in society.
Hashem provides Avraham with the model for Chessed. It is because of Hashem’s kindness that we are supplied with food, sunshine, happiness, and all of the good things that come to us in life. Avraham recognized this abundance of kindness and succeeded in copying Hashem’s ways. Avraham did not help others because of an ulterior motive such as wealth or greatness; rather, it was because he knew that the will of Hashem was the right thing to do.
Avraham’s Brit Mila occurred when he was ninety-nine years old. While he was recovering, Hashem made the desert hotter than usual, causing everybody to stay inside his or her tents, so that no one would bother Avraham while he was recovering. If anyone had approached Avraham, he would have entertained these guests, even though it would cause him discomfort. Avraham noticed the lack of visitors, and the inability to perform the Mitzva of Hachnasat Orchim upset him. Hashem, therefore, sent three angels to visit Avraham, and Avraham was very pleased that he could fulfill the Mitzva.
On the other extreme, we see the paradigm of wickedness in this week’s Parsha, Sedom. They enjoyed making others’ lives miserable. They seem to have been the exact opposite of Avraham in their goal to do wickedness to their fellow man.
A valuable lesson can be learned from these two different types of people. We should strive to perform Chessed at all opportunities, without an ulterior motive. We should perform Chessed because it is the right thing to do, not because we can gain a reward. We should try to perform Chessed like Avraham and we should not act like the people of Sedom.