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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayera

What Does Our Sedra Teach Us About "Hachnasat Orchim?"

Rabbi Stewart WeissCheshvan 18 5781
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Question: What does our sedra teach us about "Hachnasat Orchim?"

Answer: We can learn several features of Hachnasat Orchim from the story of Avraham & the angels:

1) Guests should be offered food or drink as soon as possible, especially if they have walked a long way (Avraham fed the angels before they entered his tent).

2) Guests should have a choice of food, in case they prefer specific foods or are unable to eat certain foods (e.g. they are vegan or lactose intolerant). That is why Avraham offered his guests either milk OR meat, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe - one possible answer to the problem of both meat & milk being served.

3) Treating guests with kavod & entertaining them is more important than feeding them (Rashi: Avraham knew the guests were angels & so they didn’t really need food).

4) Guests should be escorted at least 4 amot (6 feet or 2 yards) when they leave our home, as Avraham did for his guests. We then say "Lech L'Shalom" to them.

5) Women know their guests better than men (Brachot 10). Sara knew these visitors were angels before Avraham did. Bottom line: Sara’s usually right; certainly in our house!
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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