Midreshet Amit


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Guests and Hosts

By: Jessica Wietschner

In the opening scene of Parshat Vayeira, we see Avraham sitting waiting in the heat of the day. Suddenly, Hashem appears to him and in the next scene he looks up to find three men heading in his direction. The men create an opportunity for Avraham to do the mitzvah of Hachnasat orchim, which he and Sarah do fully. Does the men’s arrival interrupt Hashem’s visit to Avraham? Or are they a part of the visit?

The Rashbam explains "'And God appeared to him' – how? In that three men came to him, who were really angels. For there are many instances where, if an angel appears, he is called by the name of the Shekhina, as it is written (Shemot 23:21), 'For My Name is within him' – the emissary is considered like the one who sent him. Likewise, (Shemot 3:2), 'And an ANGEL OF GOD appeared to him in a plume of fire from within the shrub,' and there we find (verse 4), 'And GOD saw that he had turned aside to look,' [i.e. the angel is later called God]."

According to the Rashbam, The men really were angels and they were how Gd appeared to Avraham. If so why were they eating? We see in other places in Tanach that Angels generally refuse food, so why here and when they visit to Lot do they “eat?” When the Melachim come to Avraham their act of “eating” is actually part of Avraham's healing process. It allows him to take his mind off the pain and be involved in serving others. The angels pretend to eat to allow Avraham this opportunity.

When they arrive in Sodom Lot is sitting by the gate similar to Avraham who is sitting at the entrance to his tent, looking out for the opportunity to invite company. When Lot invites and insists that the angels come to his home he demonstrates that he really is Avraham's nephew, preparing a meal and inviting the angels to sleep in his house even though it was potentially dangerous.

They don’t reveal to either Avraham or Lot their angelic nature in order to give them the opportunity for the Mitzvah. This year we live as both guests and hosts. We are invited into homes for Shabbat and into the homes of the Beit Hayeled kids learning about their backgrounds and lives and at the same time we are hosts inviting them to share in our lives as well. Hopefully we will allow this Mitzvah to be transforming as it was for Avraham.