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Weekly D’rash Vayeira

Last week we learned that Abraham exhibited character traits that demonstrated what it meant to walk in the way of the Lord. We saw that living in peace was of great value to Abraham. This week we learn another character trait that models how we should live. In Genesis 18 we read that three men approached Abraham. The first eight verses of the chapter describe the hospitality that Abraham shows to these men. We read that Abraham "urged them strongly" to spend time at his home. We read that he and Sarah prepared a feast for them. Then we read the menu. Clearly this is important in the text. It conveys to us the value of hospitality. The value of hospitality is also seen in chapter 19 when two of the men appear in Sodom. There we read that Lot "urged them strongly" to stay at his home. Even though they had very different experiences, the value of hospitality is clearly demonstrated. In the New Covenant Scriptures, we read that Yeshua showed hospitality to the outsiders. A good example is in Luke 15:1–2 which reads: “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’”. The text says that he receives them and eats with them. This is hospitality. In Hebrews 13:2, we read: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it”. In 1 Timothy 5:10, widows are recommended to receive aid if they have shown hospitality to strangers. In Romans 12:12–13, hospitality is a description of being devoted to one another. In the Book of Acts, there are a variety of examples of hospitality. In ancient Israel, where travel was quite difficult, hospitality was more than a social custom. It was really a moral obligation! There are many examples of hospitably in the Tanakh. In fact, our Haftarah portion for this week describes hospitality being shown to the prophet Elisha. In Leviticus 19:3, we read: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. This is a description of hospitality. Another well-known example of hospitality was when Rahab received the young men”. Later, in Rabbinic thought, hospitality is referred to as an aspect of Gemilut Hasadim (demonstrations of lovingkindness). This of great value in the Jewish community today. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that it is a description of godly behavior in the New Covenant Scriptures. Hospitality shows concern and care for others as well as acceptance. Biblical hospitality is unique in its focus on the stranger and the poor. It is not simply inviting friends over, although that is also hospitality that we should all practice! "Hospitals" and "hospice" find their roots in hospitality. The Greek word for hospitality is ‘philo-xenia’, love of the stranger. We live in a world and culture that is isolated and in many cases uncaring of others. Hospitality can be provided in a variety of ways. It can mean having someone over to your home. It is not so important that your home be spotless and perfect, but that you are sharing your "space" with another person. Hospitality can mean meeting an important need in another person's life. It may mean sharing a meal with someone, or in some cases simply spending time with another person. It may mean giving aid to a homeless person. It is a great way to show the love of God to another human being. During the month of November, we are encouraging everyone to demonstrate the "light of Messiah" by showing kindness to strangers or to those who are not expecting it. May we be people who are known for our love of the stranger and the brethren. May we be people of hospitality. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Howard

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