This week we read parshat Vayera. The parsha opens with three guests visiting Abraham in his tent. Abraham greets the guests and feeds them, also giving them milk to drink. Abraham didn’t know that the guests were angels sent to tell Abraham that Sarah would have a baby.
One thing that I found interesting was that Abraham rushes to greet his guests. He also washes their feet for them, even though he has never met them. He rushes his wife, Sarah, into making them a meal. He also rushes to make them feel comfortable, which shows he has a lot of hospitality. In the Hebrew text, this “rushing” is shown by the use of verbs. Action after action after action shows Abraham’s focus on — and eagerness for — doing things for his guests. Some examples of his actions are “hastened,” “ran,” “took,” “prepared” and “waited on.”
There are many things that we can learn from this, one of them being hospitality. We should all be like Abraham and be more hospitable to our guests. In today’s world, we aren’t exactly rushing to wash our guests’ feet, but we could do other things to show hospitality, such as showing some kindness by having a smile on our face when we greet guests. We could also make food that our guests will enjoy and sit them in chairs that are comfortable.
These guidelines for hospitality are great today when we invite guests we know. What’s amazing about Abraham’s actions is that he did all these things for strangers. Maybe the parsha teaches us also about how to care for people we don’t know personally. Abraham becomes a role model for the way we are expected to treat strangers. In the Bible, there are many references to remind us that we, the Jewish people, were also strangers in the land of Egypt. The Torah instructs us to provide food and shelter for the stranger. In fact, because of this time of slavery, we are commanded to take care of others who might be suffering. Every Shabbat and holiday, we are commanded to remember the stranger because we were strangers in Egypt. Abraham’s actions in parshat Vayera give us an early model of how our entire people should learn to behave.
Sarah Rosenthal is a seventh-grader at Krieger Schechter Day School.