Universal Kindness by Yehuda Turetsky


Avraham’s actions in Parshat Vayera teach several important lessons.  The Seforno emphasizes Avraham’s Zerizut as seen in the Pasuk, “And he saw, and he ran to greet them.”  Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, focuses on the double language of וירא, which teaches what one’s course of action should be in any situation.  First one must determine what needs to be done, and then one must determine how to do it.  By assessing every situation in that manner, one will be successful in all his endeavors.

There are many commentators who focus on a specific aspect of Avraham’s Chessed.  For example, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus explains that whereas most people honor guests according to their status, Avraham would honor any guest regardless of stature, to the best of his ability.

There is a famous story about Reb Levi Yitzchak MiBerditchev that illustrates this point.  When Reb Levi Yitzchak was once visiting a certain town, he went to a rich and well respected person in town to ask for lodging.  Since he did not reveal his identity, the rich man did not give him accommodation.  A poor Melamed, however, was willing to accept Reb Levi Yitzchak into his house and treat him like a king, offering whatever he could.  When Reb Levi Yitzchak was finally recognized, all the townspeople came to visit him.  Among them was the rich man who had previously thrown Reb Levi Yitzchak out of his house.  The rich man begged for forgiveness and pleaded that Reb Levi Yitzchak stay at his house because had he known whom he was, he surely would have invited him in.

Reb Levi Yitzchak responded to the entire crowd with the following piece of Torah.  The Torah records that both Avraham and Lot received guests cordially.  The difference between the two is that regarding Lot the Pasuk says, “Two angels came toward Sedom,” but in reference to Avraham the Pasuk states, “And he saw three men.”  Lot saw angels and therefore treated them well, but Avraham saw poor and disheveled men, and that was enough to welcome them into his house.

עיטורי תורה quotes a similar idea in the name of Rav Shalom MiBelz.  Commenting on the Pasuk, והוא יושב פתח האהל, he explains homiletically that Avraham sits by the opening of Gan Eden and looks to see if anyone who sinned has repented.  If someone has, Avraham goes out to bring him into Gan Eden.  This demonstrates Avraham’s desire to treat everyone well, even those who have sinned in the past.

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