This week, I offer our d’var Torah in memory of my father-in-law, Milton Freedman (Mendel ben Sholom), whose jahrzeit was this week. He was the grandfather of five Eagle Scouts. Like our Patriarch Abraham, he was a generous, caring and gracious host.
One of the things I like about the heroes of Torah is that they were men and women of action. They spoke little and did much. We see an example of this in our parasha this week, Vayeira.
Abraham was such a person of action. He was the most hospitable of men, and loved to entertain guests – an important trait when you live in a wilderness. At age 99, he had just finished circumcising himself and was recovering. Always on the lookout for a traveler who could use rest and a good meal, he was sitting at the entrance to his tent on the plains of Mamre.
God performed the mitzvah of bikkur cholim (visiting the sick) for Abraham. But instead of sending food, because Abraham loved to entertain guests, God sent three very special guests to visit – malachim (heavenly beings usually called “angels”).
Abraham, despite recovering from his painful operation, rushed to do his own mitzvah. He ran toward the men – he did not know they were malachim – and asked them to stay. He then ran to organize his household to prepare a fine meal for his guests.
We can learn much from Abraham, not only in the generous way we treat our guests, but also in seeking out those who might need our hospitality. Have you ever noticed that, when a friend of your family is ill, your family takes over a meal for them? Does your troop or synagogue collect supplies for a food pantry that serves people in need? The meal not only nourishes your guest’s body, but the act of kindness nourishes the soul. And your gift makes you feel good, as you get to be Friendly and Kind.
You can practice Abraham’s way of treating guests when you camp. Invite one or two of the adult leaders to join you at a meal. Make the menu extra special. Or bake a great dessert – like a dutch oven cobbler – and invite another patrol to share it with you. Your gifts are not only tasty, but also a sign of friendship and caring.
If you treat everyone like a guest no matter where you are, you may find that the world is your home.