by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – November 8, 2011
In the beginning of the Torah section of VaYerah (Bereshit 18:2-6), we read: “And he [Abraham] lifted his eyes and saw, and behold three men were standing over him, and he perceived and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent and bowed toward the ground. And he said…’Let some water be brought and wash your feet and recline beneath the tree. I will fetch a morsel of bread that you may sustain yourselves, then go on’…And Abraham hastened to the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Hurry, three se’ahs of meal, fine flour, knead and make cakes,’ and Abraham ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it.”
In commenting on the aforementioned in his Even HaAzel, R. Isser Zalman Meltzer notes the emphasis on the aspect of hurrying in this anecdote. Abraham sees three travelers, perceives that they may be in need of something to drink or eat, rushes to them, offers assistance, rushes to his wife and asks his wife to rush to make something for them, after which he rushes to prepare some meat. What’s the rush?
R. Meltzer suggests that the Torah is pointing out a message to all. When it comes to hospitality towards another or caring for another or tending to another’s needs, one must rush to do so. When another is in need of help, one should not let him wait, as is evident also in the anecdote told by our Sages regarding the Tanna Nachum Ish Gam Zu who once tarried in tending to a poor man’s needs, which led to the man’s demise (Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 21a).
This is the message that the Torah is telling us, R. Meltzer suggests. Hurry to your friend. Hurry to your neighbor. Hurry to your fellow man. When another is in need of your assistance, do not waste time in rendering that assistance. Imagine if you were the one in need!