And HASHEM appeared to him in the Orchards of Mamre and he was sitting by the opening of the tent in the heat of the day. And he lifted his eyes and behold three men were standing by him and he saw them and he ran to greet them from the opening of the tent and he bowed down to them to the earth. And he said, “My Lord if please I find favor in Your eyes please do not pass by from Your servant!” (Breishis 18:1-3)
All school children who come home with art projects this time of the year have some representation of Avraham Avinu with his open tent and his ever readiness to invite and care for guests. Avraham specialized in the Mitzvah of Hachnasas Orchim- entering guests. That’s a great thing we can all learn from the behavior and character of the first of our three great patriarchs. The burning question is, “Where did Avraham himself learn this?”
The answer is that Avraham had a second career that was equally as important. The verse speaks about “the souls that they (Sara and Avraham) made in Charan”, the ones that came along with him on his journey. How did Avraham make souls?
Now we are ready to attack both questions. The Rambam describes what it was that drove Avraham to discover HASHEM Echod- The One True G-d! Avraham had no teacher or guide just an intense curiosity about the goings on of the world around him. He observed precision and design throughout the creation. Remarkably a tree pulls up water from an underground root system through the xylem and phylum, the veins of the tree, where they are slowly converted into sweet syrup and pushed out of the edge of the branches as delicious fruits.
The leaves of the tree never overshadow or encroach upon the leaves below them. The net result of this courteous alignment is that an umbrella of shade is created for anyone who partakes of the sumptuous fruits below. How that black earth and woody trunk yield such sweet tastes and charming formations is one of the mysteries of the universe. Avraham’s intellect was piqued by this and every other phenomenon.
Avraham observed plan and purpose, unity and power, wisdom and kindliness, and sheer elegance wherever he put his curious glance. He came to understand as the Zohar states, “Koach HaPoel B’Niphal”- “the power of the actor is in his actions.” The final question is, “What is the purpose of my being aware of all this?” He concluded that he is being invited to emulate the actions of the One Supernal Actor.
From there Avraham launched a two prong project. He opened his tent widely to greet strangers just as HASHEM “feeds the whole world with His goodness, graciously, with kindliness, and with mercy”. After feeding his guests Avraham would remind them to thank their Host. They would say of course, “Thank you Avraham!” He would retort, “I’m only a waiter in this restaurant! I don’t know how to make colorful and tasty fruits and vegetables. I just serve them! Thank The Almighty! He knows how to make this giant and genius menu.
Avraham thereby “made” people by installing in their minds the most important idea for which the world was created, to recognize and fear HASHEM. In that way Avraham practiced what he had learned based on years of deep and exhaustive observation. It’s no mistake then that beneath a tree he would share this secret with the whole world. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.