06 Nov 2014 Parshas Vayeira
In this week’s Parsha, we meet Avraham Avinu (A”A) as he is recuperating from his bris milah. In the heat of the day, as he sits at the entrance to his tent, he lifts his eyes, and lo and behold, he sees 3 men (angels in the guise of men) standing before him. A”A, ever the gracious host, runs to greet them and welcomes them to his home.
After greeting them and urging them to stay at his tent (as opposed to going on to the neighboring tent!), he says to them:
יֻקַּח-נָא מְעַט-מַיִם, וְרַחֲצוּ רַגְלֵיכֶם; וְהִשָּׁעֲנוּ, תַּחַת הָעֵץ
וְאֶקְחָה פַת-לֶחֶם וְסַעֲדוּ לִבְּכֶם
Let some water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest under the tree, and I will take for you a piece of bread, and you will eat your fill… (Bereishis 18:4-5).
A timeless lesson in derech eretz and kavod ha’biryios emerges when we consider these words. The Torah here is teaching us how to welcome guests; a truism since the days of A”A until our day and time.
“Let some water be brought” – One of the first things we should offer any guest to our home is a drink. R’ Noson Zvi Finkel zt’l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, once noted to his guest, a visiting rav (who did not want the Rosh Yeshiva to trouble himself pouring a drink): “I have an obligation to pour my guest a drink; if you do not want to drink it, that is your business.” Surely, “let some water be brought!”
“Wash your feet” – Perhaps the trip was long, the traveler is weary. Certainly our guest will need a place to wash up and freshen up. Some water and a clean towel should be offered next.
“And rest under the tree” – “Here is the room where you will be staying,” as we usher our guest to the privacy of his room, so that he may settle in and rest his tired self.
And finally – last, but certainly not least – “And I will take for you a piece of bread” – After the drink, the washing up, the guest room and the rest, it must be that the guest is hungry, and we must be sure to invite him to join us at our meal.
Let us strive to emulate A”A – go ahead, invite a guest! And let us remember that it is the timeless sensitivity and eternal wisdom of Torah that teaches us “social etiquette” and how to care for and treat those who visit our homes.
Wishing you a good Shabos.