In this week’s parasha, we learn about the amazing chesed that Avraham performs for his three guests, angels in the guise of people. Avraham was in extreme pain from his recent circumcision (although the commentators say that HaShem’s visit healed Avraham), and HaShem wanted him to take a break from hosting guests. Nonetheless, when HaShem saw that Avraham was distressed about the lack of wayfarers, HaShem brought Avraham three guests so that Avraham could perform the mitzvah of הכנסת אורחים. Yet, when Avraham commenced his acts of kindness, he said (Bereishis 18:4) יֻקַּח נָא מְעַט מַיִם וְרַחֲצוּ רַגְלֵיכֶם וְהִשָּׁעֲנוּ תַּחַת הָעֵץ, let some water be brought and wash your feet, and recline beneath the tree. Rashi citing the Medrash takes Avraham to task on this directive, as Avraham passed on the mitzvah to one of his household members, and HaShem paid back the Jewish People in measure. When Miriam died, the well of water left the Jewish People, and the Jews complained to Moshe and HaShem instructed Moshe to draw forth water from the rock.
One must wonder what the meaning of this condemnation is. Avraham was running a major hospitality movement, and while it would have certainly been noble for Avraham to do everything himself, it does not appear that this approach would have been practical. In fact, further on we see that Avraham had his son Yishmael serve the guests the meat. What, then, was the fault of Avraham regarding his offer to bring his guests water? Furthermore, we must understand how Avraham’s act was connected to the Jews’ receiving water in the Wilderness?
The answer to this questions is that Avraham was essentially exempt from performing mitzvos because of his condition following circumcision. Nonetheless , his distress caused them to grant him an opportunity of performing chased for guests, and Avraham should have used this opportunity to its fullest. Certainly Avraham should have performed the first act of kindness on his own without involving others. Similarly, when the well of water disappeared in the Wilderness, the Jewish People should have used the opportunity to pray to HaShem directly for water. After all, when HaShem created the world, the rain did not fall until Adam appeared and prayed for rain. HaShem therefore punished the Jewish People by having Moshe draw forth the water, and this episode resulted in Moshe not being able to enter into Eretz Yisrael. Had Moshe spoken to the rock and not hit the rock, the Jewish People would have witnessed HaShem’s full abilities to provide for them. When Moshe hit the rock, this perception was diminished in the eyes of the Jewish People and Moshe forfeited entering the Land. We find in a similar event that the Jewish People requested so send spies to determine the value of Eretz Yisroel, and this act of having messengers stake out the Land had grave consequences, and most of the Jewish People died in the Wilderness and we lost the Bais HaMikdash twice on Tisha B’Av.
The lesson from this act of Avraham is that we must always grasp the opportunity to perform mitzvah to its fullest and then HaShem will grant us opportunities to perform more mitzvos to the fullest.
Have a MITZVAH FILLED Shabbos!
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