By: William J Jackson
Now here was Abraham relaxing in the heat of the day (Genesis 18:1) probably recovering from his resent surgery (Genesis 17:24). “Oy vey!” circumcision at 99 years of age. Anyhow, three strangers show up out of nowhere. You would think father Abraham, a wealthy man (Genesis 13:2), would have sent a servant out to welcome his guest. If not that, you would have thought he might have called out in spite of his healing wound. But no, he does neither, instead he runs out and welcomes them in person (Genesis 18:2). He beseeches them to get out of the heat and entices them with a light snack (Genesis 18:5). The men comply but instead of giving them just a little bread, Abraham conjures up this great feast (Genesis 18:6-8). His guests then deliver both good and bad news. The good news is the foretelling of his son Isaac (Genesis 8:10) and the bad news is the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham after going well out of his way for his guest and appreciating the good news of his son to come now pleads for the righteous people of that wicked city (Genesis 18:23-33). This guy is like the epitome of selflessness!
We could learn a lot from Abraham. This begs the question of ourselves, how do we view the patriarchs, matriarchs and heroes of the bible? Are they lofty people whose standards are beyond reproach or are they examples we need to live up to. Based off the fact that their flaws are certainly not hid from us I would assume that their good qualities serves as our example.
Most religions really put the effort into creating an inviting environments. When a new comer comes into their folds they treat them like royalty making them feel welcome. In the spirit of Abraham we need to also be gracious hosts. Rabbi Tovia Singer makes a joke that if a new comer comes into a synagogue somebody will usually welcome them with that four word greeting… “you’re in my seat”. But seriously, we need to be good at welcoming and encouraging people who are interested in our walk.
Another point we can draw from Abraham is his willingness to intercede for others. This is definitely a sign of selflessness. Many of the great people in scripture exhibit this wonderful quality. For example this was prevalent with David, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Moses was another one that championed his fellow man in intercession with Hashem and prayer (Exodus 32:7-14; Numbers 21:7; Deuteronomy 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27; Psalms 106:23). In fact, not to intercede for others could be in considered contrary to YHVH’s will. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
In summary to quote *Lubavitcher Rebbe “because of Abraham’s immense humility, he considered himself only a tool for performing G-d’s will. His life’s work was teaching G-d’s Oneness to the world. Any honor given to him personally, Abraham automatically attributed to G-d and credited himself with nothing”.
*Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory (1902-1994); seventh leader of Chabad-Lubavitch