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This week’s parsha imparts to us lessons for life - how we should conduct ourselves in our daily affairs and in our relationships.
Interestingly enough, these teachings are not imparted as commands, but rather through example, for in the end, that is the best way to teach proper conduct (i.e.; If your children hear you say “Thank you” and “Please”, they too will say “Thank you” and “Please”, etc.). I will mention just a few of the teachings that are highlighted in this parsha which shape our Jewish character, and they all center around chesed - loving kindness.
1) Bikur Cholim - Visiting the Sick - Abraham is recovering from his circumcision and is visited by G-d Himself (Genesis 18:1). Interestingly enough, the text simply says, “And G-d appeared to him. (Omitting the Patriarch’s name) so that we should not think that it is only the great and righteous who merit a visit. All those who are ill should be visited.
2) Hachnosses Orchim - Welcoming Guests - From our father Abraham, we learn the importance of extending hospitality to wayfarers and having an open house. Indeed, the chuppah (marriage canopy) open on all sides, is modeled after the tent of Abraham who, with great devotion and love, provided his guests with food and lodging. This teaching applies to all guests, for initially, Abraham thought that his visitors were desert nomads.
3) Enthusiasm - Abraham ran to greet his guests, and he ran to serve them, teaching that when we perform a mitzvah, it should be done with alacrity and joyous enthusiasm, for the manner in which we perform such mitzvos is important.(i.e.; grudgingly or happily; angrily or kindly, warmly or coldly).
4) Escorting Guests - It is written when the angels took their leave from the tent of our father Abraham (Genesis, 18:16), he walked with them to escort them - teaching us that not only is it a mitzvah to invite guests to our homes, but when they depart, we should accompany them (for example, if we live in an apartment building, we should escort them to the elevator. If we have a private home, we should walk with them for a few feet from our door.
5) Lfum Tzara Agra - The pain is commensurate with the reward - Although Abraham was in immense pain due to his circumcision, he transcended his pain so that he might perform the mitzvah of Hachnoses Orchim, teaching us that the greater the effort - mesiras nefesh - and sacrifice that the mitzvah entails, the greater our reward (i.e.: you go to synagogue despite the distance and inclement weather. You go to study Torah despite your fatigue; you give tzedukah, despite the fact that you are on a tight budget).
6) Makom K’Vua - Designating a set place for prayer - This teaches that we should have our own special place for prayer in our home as well as in Synagogue. (Genesis, 18:33)
7) Ha Mispallel B’Ad Chaver - He who prays on behalf of another when he himself needs that very same thing, is answered first - G-d granted Sarah a son after Abraham prayed for Avimelech to be blessed with children. (Genesis, 21:1)
If ever there was a need to intensify our acts of chesed it is today. Our world is in crisis. If we relate to one another with chesed, Hashem will relate with chesed to us.
May G-d accept all our prayers with mercy and compassion,