vayaira

This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayaira. The Parsha begins with the story of the kindness of Abraham to the angels. The story occurred on the third day after Abrahamís circumcision. Abraham was 99 years old, no youngster by any yardstick. He was recuperating from his surgery, but nonetheless he wanted to have guests. Hashem made it a blistering hot day so that no one would be traveling and Abraham would be able to rest rather than be busy attending to their needs. However, Abraham was so bothered by the fact that there was no one for him to invite into his house, that he sat by the doorway looking for guests. Hashem saw how great his pain was at not being able to perform a kindness, that He actually sent angels to visit Abraham.

The commentaries ask, why is it that the Torah picks this specific story to describe the kindness of Abraham? We know that Abraham lived his entire life doing kindness. Our tradition is that his tent had four doors, one on each side, so that people could come in to his house from all sides. If his whole life was dedicated to being so giving and kind, what makes this story stand out that it is the one picked to describe the kindness of Abraham?

The classic commentator Keheles Yitzchack, offers the following thought: Often when we hear of a person who needs help in our community, people will remove themselves from helping or trying to address the problem. Each person has a reason why they are not the right person to get involved, and why someone else should be the one to take care of it. Whether it is time for the family, responsibilities at work, heath issues, or some other pressure, we dismiss the opportunity to help and leave it for someone else to take care of. Unfortunately, the end result often is that the person who needs to be helped does not end up getting the assistance that they need.

In this act of kindness that Abraham did, he taught us not to make excuses not to help out. Abraham had all the excuses in the world: He was 99 years old; he was marking the third day from his circumcision, a day that is considered the most painful from the procedure. In this situation Abraham didnít even have to think about having guests, much less to actively look for them. Nonetheless Abraham looked for them, waited upon them, and cared for them. Abraham taught us that we as Jews have to actively seek to do mitzvohs and kindness, not to look for reasons that we canít get involved or be bothered.