There are a lot of things that we can learn by looking
at the Pesukim which discuss the interaction between Avraham and
the guests, which he welcomed into his house.
At first we see that Avraham tells the Angels (his
guests) , "...some water will be brought to wash your feet
and rest under the tree."
In the next Pasuk Avraham tells his guests, "I
will bring you some bread in order to be able to sustain yourselves,
and then you can continue on your way."
While in Pasuk(18:8) we see that Avraham brings them
much more than just bread to eat, he actually brings them a whole
On of the things that we can learn from Avraham is that "one should say that he is going to do a little, but really do much".
For the Gemarah in Bava Metziah(87a) brings down
that we can learn from Avraham that he told the angels that he
will bring them a little bread and at the end he brings them a
whole meal, the righteous people say little and do much.
If we look closely at the wording of the Pasuk, we
see that when Avraham said that he would bring bread, he himself
brought the bread. While when the Pasuk talks about bringing water,
it is done trough a messenger. The Midrash tells us that since
Avraham brought the bread (and not through a messenger), Chazal
say that Hashem himself gave the Bnei Yisroel, Ma-an in the desert.
However, since the water was brought through a messenger, also in the time that the Bnei Yisroel were in the desert, the water was brought to them through a messenger (Mai Merivah...).
Rashi explains that for this reason we have the incident
of Moshe Rabbeinu hitting the rock to get water from it.
We can see here that it is much greater for a Mitzvah
to be done by oneself, than to have a messenger do it for you.
However, we can ask, that the whole reason that Avraham used a messenger was because this was not part of the Mitzva of "Hachnasas Orchim". For he brought them water because he thought that they were Arabs, and he didn't want them to enter the house with the uncleanness of Avodas Elilim.
While, the bringing of the bread was Hachnasas Orchim,
thus he himself took care of it!
Comes the Sefer "Shay Le Torah" and explains
that Avraham was not punished for using a messenger, however we
see from here that the actions of the Avos is what built the "Netzach",
eternity, of Am Yisroel. Therefore, whatever the Avos did or said,
had an everlasting effect on Am Yisroel.
Therefore, any reward that the Bnei Yisroel receive
in this world, is measured exactly as how the Avos acted. So even
though Avraham may have been correct in using a messenger, still
the repayment to his future generations is also through a messenger.
We may also ask, why did Avraham tell them to only take a little water, and by the bread he says differently, "Vah Ekach..."?
So Rav Diskin, in his Sefer "Nachal Eliyahu",
explains that since the water was brought by a messenger, and
it was the messenger that had to bring (Shlep) the water, he didn't
want to burden the water carrier. For it is not correct to do
"Hidur Mitzvah", on someone else's account. While the
bread was brought be Avraham himself, thus he told them to take
as much bread as they want.
There is a story about Rav Yisroel Salant, that he
once saw one of his students that came to Shul, and washed his
hands before Davening, with a nice amount of water. This water
was brought by the Shamash of the Shul, for in those days you
couldn't just open up a tap of water.
He then rebuked that student for doing a Hidur on
someone else's expense.
Rav Yisroel Salant would also cut down on preparations
for the Shabbos meal and Zemiros before the meal, if he would
have guests in his house, and would make Kiddush right away. For
he knew his guests were hungry and he didn't want to do it on
Let us learn from this to have more thought in our actions, even things which we are used to doing day-in-day-out.
For what we may think is a "Hidur Mitzvah",
may be just the opposite.
I also heard another story in the name of Rav Yisroel Salant. Someone once asked him if he should take upon himself a new Minhag. Rav Yisroel told him no.
A while later, he asked Rav Yisroel, what was the reason for not advising him on the new Minhag? Answered Rav Yisroel that if one takes upon himself a Minhag, yet at the same time, he looks at others that don't do the same Minhag, as people that are doing the wrong thing, then whatever he thought he may have gained by taken upon this Minhag, he in essence lost. (Heard over from Rav Vaizer)
We saw this last week when Avraham told the king
of Sdom, that he didn't want to take anything from the booty.
For he didn't want to take any personal gains from Sdom, so the
king shouldn't go around telling everyone that it was he who made
Avraham rich. However, Avraham told the King of Sdom, that the
ones who helped him fight could take their portion. Here we see
a good example that Avraham took a Chumra upon himself, but he
didn't require others to do the same, and he still saw what they
were doing as correct. As long as someone relies on sound Halachic
opinion, one can't look at what the other is doing is wrong.
We see from here that when someone decides that he
is going to do a Mitzvah with "Hidur" he should make
sure that he is not doing it on someone else's account.
The Ksav Sofer brings down that when Avraham goes to get meat to serve his guests, he "runs" to get the meat, "Ve-el-Habakar Ratz Avraham".
While when he went to tell Sarah to prepare bread,
it doesn't say "Vayaratz", yet it says "VahYemaher",
why do we find a difference between the two cases?
Comes the Ksav Sofer and says that when someone thinks of doing a Mitzvah, he should do it right away, and not wait. "Mitzvah Habah Al Yadcha, Al Tachmetzenu." If you get a chance to do a Mitzvah, do it and don't let it go bye, for the Yetzer Hara may convince you not to do the Mitzvah.
Thus when Avraham had the idea of bringing them meat,
he ran right away to do it, before he would have time to change
his mind. While by the bread, he already told them that he would
bring them bread, on this he wasn't worried that he may change
his mind, for he gave his word. While he still did it quickly,
for he didn't want to be lazy.
Why does Avraham tell his guests to wash off their feet?
For Avraham didn't want them to bring the dust of their feet into his house.(Rashi)
Why, did they actually worship the dust of their feet?
Comes Rabbi Elias Schwartz and brings down a commentator that explains, that we as Jews, believe in Hashgacha Pratis. That Hashem himself is looking over us constantly, and Hashem guides our life with exact precision.
We believe that whatever we have in this world, comes only from Hashem, and because Hashem wants us to have what we have.
However, the typical wayfarer thinks that he earns his living from the "dust of his feet", his own traveling around to make a Parnasah, and he doesn't realize that all is from Hashem.
At times people get so involved in this world, that they don't spend time to see where they really get their Parnsah from, that it is not from ones own power.
Avraham told them to wash their feet and he didn't
have someone wash their feet, because when someone has wrong thoughts
on who runs this world, he himself has to clean himself. He has
to do the cleaning himself. He has to fix his way of thinking,
and increase his Bitachon in Hashem.
On a similar note, the Ksav Sofer brings down that Avraham told his guests to rest under the tree. In this merit, the Bnei Yisroel received the Mitzvah of dwelling in a Succah.
What's the connection between the tree & Succah & Bitachon?
For we know that part of the reason of the Mitzvah of living in a Succah is to show/see that all is from Hashem.
For we know that the tree was planted by a human,
however, if Hashem would not bring rain, the tree won't grow,
and there would be no fruits. Same by us in our every-day life,
if we don't see that all that is given to us is from Hashem, we
have lost everything.
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (193) brings down that it is a Mitzvah to visit the sick. We learn this out from Hashem visiting Avraham, when Chazal explain that Hashem appeared to Avraham in Eilonei Mamrei, to visit him.
He brings down that it is good to visit the sick as much as one is able, as long as he is not being a burden.
A sick person that is lying in bed, does not have
to stand up even if for the Nassi, if he wants to stand, he is
not told to sit, but we let him stand.
The main Mitzvah of visiting the sick is to see how
one can help the sick, and make sure that his needs are taken
care of. One is also required to ask Hashem to have mercy on
the sick person. The K.S.A goes so far and says that if one does
not ask for "Rachamim" on the sick person, he did not
perform the Mitzvah, even though he visited the sick.
When one asks for "Rachamim" for the sick,
when it is done in his presence, one can ask for Rachamim in any
language. For we know that the Shechina is present by a sick
person, and it is "Ke-Va-Yo-Chal", that he is asking
directly from the Shechina. However, when one asks for mercy
not in the presence of the sick person, his prayers are sent through
messengers, thus he is only able to ask in "Lashon Ha Kodesh".
He should also include that the person should be healed, "Betoch
Kol Cholei Yisroel". For the fact that he is including him/her
with the rest of Klal Yisroel, ones Tefilah is heard more, because
of the merit of many.
When one is in the presence of the sick, one doesn't have to mention his name, yet when not in the sick persons presence, one needs to mention his/her name.
We also know that at times ones name is part of the reason why a person is sick, that is why we change the name some times, when a person is sick. This is done by adding a name to ones name. It should be done after asking a Reliable Orthodox Local Rabbi. So if one is not praying in the sick persons presence, he must mention his name, and thus may bring a bad judgment on this person.
However, in his presence one doesn't need to mention his name. And thus, may keep some bad judgement against him, away.
So we can say that by one davening in a persons presence,
there is a greater chance that his prayers will be answered than
not in his presence.
One that has a choice to visit the sick or to comfort
mourners, if he can do both of the Mitzvos, visiting the sick
comes first. For one is also required to ask for mercy on the
However, if he can't perform both Mitzvos, comforting
mourners comes first. For this is kindness to the living and
One also visits a non-Jew who is sick, for Darkei
There are various opinions of what type of Mitzvah
Bikur Cholim is:
- The Bahag says that it is included in Gemilus Chasadim, and it is a Mitzvah D'orysah.
(There are also other differing opinions.)
-The Meiri says that it is a Mitzvah D'erabanan
-The Rambam says that it is a Mitzvah D'erabanan,
and it is included in "VehAhavtah Lereiacha Kamocha".
The Shalah says one is Mikayim it through ones: money, self, and Neshama.
Money - if a sick person doesn't have money for his medical expenses and helping him is part of the Mitzvah in Bikur Cholim.
Body - Make sure that sick persons needs are done, and you should go around and look-into the sick persons needs.(i.e. bed made, light on\off...)
(The Tzitz Eliezer (Ramat Rachel) suggest that now a days since there are hospitals and the nurses take care of needs the patients needs 24 hours a day, unlike in the time of Chazal, and we also have insurance, maybe we don't have the mitzvah nowadays?
So he explains, even though we still have the spiritual
needs. That one has to do Bikur with ones Neshama.)
Neshama (Soul) - Daven to Hashem that Hashem should
bring a complete recovery to the sick person.
Now the minimum Tefilah would be to at least wish
him a Refuah Sheleimah. (Rav Frand)
(Please ask your Local Orthodox Reliable Rabbi for
Halachic questions, the above is only here to try and increase
your Torah knowledge).