This week we read about Abraham preferring to greet strangers over his 1:1 w/ Gd. Its quite perplexing & here is the scenario: the previous portion (Lech Lecha) ends with Abraham entering the covenant (circumcision) @ 99 yrs of age. Abe, sitting there in the heat of the desert, in great pain, and Gd shows up! Rashi explains that Gd is coming to do a well visit – bikur cholim…
וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְדוָד, בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא; וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח-הָאֹהֶל, כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם. ב וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא, וְהִנֵּה שְׁלֹשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים, נִצָּבִים עָלָיו; וַיַּרְא, וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל, וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ, אָרְצָה
“And the LORD appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth”
Seriously? Abraham gives Gd his back and runs to greet these strangers, bowing before them, and all. There is something important to learn here in that the Gd of Abraham expected him to do just that, that is to greet strangers, bring them into his tent and provide them food, drink, and shelter from the wilderness. I’m not suggesting that we go out there and bring absolute strangers into our home, but I am suggesting, and Jewish tradition reflects this value of “Hachnasat Orchim”, that we make every effort to welcome guests into our home – those in need and those who need not. Its these kinds of interactions that enable us to create and be a part of community, a life that is more meaningful, built on relationships that extend beyond our own four walls and into the world beyond.