And [Adonai] appeared to him: to visit the sick (Tan. Buber, Vayera 1). Said Rabbi Chama the son of Chanina: It was the third day from his circumcision, and the Holy One, blessed be God, came and inquired about his welfare (B. M. 86b).
at the entrance of the tent: to see whether there were any passersby whom he would bring into his house. — [from B. M. 86b]
|as the day grew hot: (B.M. 86b) The Holy One, blessed be God, took the sun out of its sheath so as not to trouble him with wayfarers, but since God saw that he was troubled that no wayfarers were coming, God brought the angels to him in the likeness of men. — [from Gen. Rabbah 48:9, Exod. Rabbah 25:2]|
he saw three men: One to bring the news [of Isaac’s birth] to Sarah, and one to overturn Sodom, and one to heal Abraham, for one angel does not perform two errands (Gen. Rabbah 50:2).
|as soon as he saw: Why is וַיַרְא written twice [in this verse?] The first is to be understood according to its apparent meaning [i.e., and he saw], and the second means “understanding.” He observed that they were standing in one place, and he understood that they did not wish to burden him. And although they knew that he would come out toward them, they stood in their place out of respect for him, to show him that they did not wish to trouble him, and he went out first and ran toward them. (This is the reading in an old Rashi ms.)|
And he said, “My lord(s), if it please you, etc.”: To the chief one he said this, and he called them all lords, and to the chief one he said, “Please do not pass by,” because if he would not pass by, his companions would stay with him.
According to this version, the word 'my lords' is profane (i.e., it does not refer to God).
Another explanation: 'my lords' is holy, and he was telling the Holy One, blessed be God, to wait for him until he would run and bring in the wayfarers.
Let...be brought: through a messenger, and the Holy One, blessed be He, rewarded his [Abraham’s] children through a messenger, as it is said (Num. 20:11): “And Moses raised his hand, and he struck the rock.” - [from B.M. 86b]
bathe your feet: He thought that they were Arabs, who prostrate themselves to the dust of their feet, and he was strict not to allow any idolatry into his house. But Lot, who was not strict, mentioned lodging before washing, as it is said (below 19:2): “and lodge and bathe your feet.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 54:4]
refresh yourselves - literally "sustain your hearts": In the Torah, in the Prophets, and in the Hagiographa, we find that bread is the sustenance of the heart. In the Torah — “and sustain your hearts” ; in the Prophets — (Jud. 19:5) “Sustain your heart with a morsel of bread”; in the Hagiographa — (Ps. 104:15) “and bread sustains man’s heart.” Said Rabbi Chama: לְבַבְכֶם is not written here, but לִבָּכֶם. This teaches us that the evil inclination does not rule over the angels. — [from Gen. Rabbah 48:11]
a calf, tender and choice: There were three calves, in order to feed them three tongues with mustard. — [from B.M. 86b]
to a servant-boy, literally "the youth": This was Ishmael, to train him to perform mitzvot. — [from Aboth d’Rabbi Nathan, ch. 13]
as they ate: They [the men/angels] appeared to be eating. From here we learn that a person should not deviate from custom. — [from B.M. ad loc., Gen. Rabbah 48:14, Targum Jonathan]
- Passover Haggadah: Ha Lachma Anya - "This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover. This year we are we are here; next year may we be in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year may we be free."
- "Although they may initially seem redundant, the two invitations we issue in Ha Lachma Anya - 'let all who are hungry enter and eat' and 'let all who are in need com and celebrate the Passover' - in reality they are not. 'Let all who are in need' means those who are in need - but not in need of bread...one who is alone, who has a lot of matza and wine but no home or family. This prayer teaches us: who ever is in need [of any kind] should come and celebrate." - Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
- Excerpt from: "Ushpizin: Welcoming Guests"
We perform a short ceremony to welcome the ushpizin (Aramaic for “guests”).
On the first day we say, “I invite to my meal the exalted guests, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. May it please you, Abraham, my exalted guest, that all the other exalted guests dwell with me and with you – Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.” On each day, a different one of the seven is singled out, in order. The Sephardim (Jews of Spanish or Mediterranean ancestry), invite the patriarchs, then the leaders/prophets (Moses and Aaron), then royalty (Joseph and David). They often send provisions to the poor along with a note saying, “This is the share of the ushpizin.” Recently, it has become popular in some circles to invite matriarchs and other important women of Israel–Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, and Esther–either paired with the men or on their own.
In addition to serving as a reminder of our duty to the poor (it is said that the ushpizin would refuse to enter a sukkah where the poor are not welcome), each of these exalted personages represents uprootedness. (Abraham left his father’s home for the land God promised to show him [Genesis 12:1], Isaac went to Gerar during a famine [Genesis 26:1], Jacob fled from his brother Esau to the habitat of Laban [Genesis 28:2], Joseph was sold to merchants and taken to Egypt [Genesis 37:23-36], Moses fled to Midian after inadvertently killing an Egyptian [Exodus 2:11-15] and he and Aaron wandered the Sinai for forty years [beginning with Exodus 13], and David hid from Saul in the wilderness [ISamuel 20, 21].)
Each in his wanderings contributed to the world through a respective personal characteristic: lovingkindness, strength, splendor, glory, holiness, eternity, sovereignty. Reflecting the periods of homelessness and wandering in their lives, our temporary dwellings can inspire us to emulate the benefits they brought to the world.
During a rabbinic discussion about what required special ritual repurification after a particular festival, one rabbi cites this verse from the Tanakh [Hebrew Bible]:
“The altar, three cubits high, and its length two cubits, was of wood, and so its corners, its length, and its walls were also of wood, and he said to me: This is the table that is before the Lord” (Ezekiel 41:22).
This text causes the rabbis to get distracted from the discussion they are having because "The verse began with the word “altar” and ended with the word “table,” but both words describe the same item."
Two rabbis (Rabbi Yoḥanan and Reish Lakish) clear up the confusion, teaching that when the Temple is standing the altar atones for a person; now that the Temple has been destroyed, it is a person’s table that atones for him, for his feeding of needy guests atones for his sins.
- Rashi on Chagigah 27a: How does his table atone for him? Through Hachnasat Orchim.
MISHNA: On Shabbat, one may move even four or five baskets of straw and baskets of produce, due to the guests who require that place to sit, and due to suspension of Torah study in the study hall, where space is required to seat the students. However, one may not move these items to create space in the storeroom.
GEMARA: The Gemara asks: Now that the mishna stated that one may move five baskets, is mentioning four baskets necessary?
Rav Ḥisda said: The mishna means that one may move four out of five baskets, but not all of them.
Some say: It is permitted to move four baskets from a small storeroom and five baskets from a large storeroom.
And Shmuel says: The difficulty in the mishna should be explained as a figure of speech: Four and five, as people who are not so precise in their formulation say: Four or five. And if one so desires, he may clear even more.
A dilemma was raised before the Sages: These four or five baskets, is the mishan saying that one may move only four or five baskets even though he has many guests? Or perhaps, it is all according to the number of guests, and if there are more guests one may move more baskets.
And if you say it is all according to the number of guests, does one man move the baskets to make room for all of them, or perhaps each and every man moves a basket to make room for himself?
Come and hear a resolution to this dilemma from that which Rabba said that Rav Ḥiyya said: Once Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi went to a certain place and saw that the place was too crowded for the students. And he went to the field and found a field full of bundles of grain, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi cleared the bundles from the whole field in its entirety. Conclude from it that the quantity that can be moved is all according to the number of guests.
[Conclusion]: We learned in the mishna: One may move baskets of produce due to the guests and in order to prevent the suspension of Torah study in the study hall.
[Learning gleaned from the conversation]:
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Hospitality toward guests is as great as rising early to go to the study hall, as the mishna equates them and teaches: Due to the guests and due to suspension of Torah study in the study hall.
And Rav Dimi from Neharde’a says: Hospitality toward guests is greater than rising early to the study hall, as it teaches: Due to the guests, and only afterward: And due to suspension of Torah study in the study hall.
Rav Yehuda said that Rav said on a related note: Hospitality toward guests is greater than receiving the Divine Presence, as when Abraham invited his guests it is written: “And he said: Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please pass not from Your servant” (Genesis 18:3). Abraham requested that God, the Divine Presence, wait for him while he tended to his guests appropriately. Rabbi Elazar said: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be God, is not like that of flesh and blood. The attribute of flesh and blood people is such that a less significant person is unable to say to a more significant person: Wait until I come to you. However, when Abraham requested that God wait for him due to his guests, God waited.