One of the reasons that I look forward to this week’s parasha is because it features the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (hospitality). Avraham, the founder of our faith, is the model in our tradition for the pursuit of this mitzvah. He is depicted as stationing himself at the entrance to his tent diligently awaiting the appearance of any wayfarer who he might persuade to partake of his hospitality.
The Torah emphasizes that Avraham sought guests in the “heat of the day.” The commentaries make much of the significance of this detail. One interpretation in particular notes that just as the sun shines on everyone, rich and poor, good and not so good, likewise did Avraham happily offer his hospitality to anyone he could.
The Midrash links Avraham’s hospitality with his success in bringing converts to his newfound faith in God. Although today we are less focused on proselytizing others than on in reach to fellow Jews, the lesson remains the same; hospitality builds community.
Rabbi Mitch Levine