In this week’s parsha, Vayeira, the Torah depicts an aged Avraham, sitting at the door of his tent, after just having performed his own circumcision. G-d appears to Avraham to visit the sick. Three “men,” who we find out are really not men at all but divine messengers of G-d, come to visit Avraham. Avraham runs and welcomes the strangers and offers them some bread, water, and a place to rest instead of remaining with G-d. How could Avraham leave G-d to help these random travelers? The prevailing concept of spirituality is a person who withdraws from society to contemplate the meaning of life. This is the opposite with Avraham, who gave up time with G-d to perform kindness. He cared about the health of others over his own. Physical existence is meant to serve as a vehicle for spirituality. A recluse is selfish and self-centered in Jewish terms.
For example, relationships are the supreme opportunity to attain heights in spirituality. How often are we placed in family situations where a kind word can break the tension that sometimes hangs densely in the air? How often can a day be started on the right foot by a parent’s or a spouse’s kind word or gesture? Friendly words create a bonding atmosphere. How far does a compliment go? People even remember the compliments they were given years ago! It is a very inexpensive yet successful way to elevate oneself. Small things matter. This is what we understand from Avraham’s actions. There is nothing audacious about Avraham excusing himself from G-d’s presence to go and do His will. This is what we are here for. There will be plenty of time later to spend in His presence. G-d loved and singled out the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish religion. They were some of the most exceptional people. We are blessed with the opportunity to know of them and emulate their deeds and attitudes. We connect ourselves to our forefathers by emulating them, and thereby are connected to the relationship they had with G-d. Kindness is the way of Avraham. It is the path to true spirituality. The Torah student understands that spirituality is not a result of transcending the physical world, but rather living as part of the world in an elevated fashion. Shabbat Shalom.
Written by: Jack Benveniste-Plitt