Vayera – What is more important than the Highest Priority?
Rash”i cites the Midrash that Abraham interrupted a ‘visit’ with the Almighty to run and entertain the nomads who appeared near his dwelling. Abraham bid the Lord to ‘wait’ until he took care of the hospitality of his guests.
This Midrash is supported by the verses which opens the Parsha. (18:1-2) “God appeared to Abraham in Elonei Mamrei, while he [Abraham] was sitting near the door of his tent in the heat of the day. [Abraham] raised his eyes and saw three men standing upon him. He saw this and ran to greet them from the opening of the tent and bowed to the ground.” Abraham persuaded them to refresh themselves at his home.
The Midrash teaches that this was the third day since Abraham’s circumcision, the day when the effects of the operation were most painful. The Almighty had ‘taken the sun out of its sheath’ and the day was unbearably hot. This was to ensure there were no travelers who would disrupt Abraham’s rest. When the Almighty perceived that the absence of guests was far more painful to Abraham than the physical discomfort, He sent three angels in the form of men. The Almighty ‘visited’ Abraham in the sense that He orchestrated these conditions for the sake of Abraham’s recovery. It also indicates that Abraham’s relationship with the Almighty had grown more intense since the circumcision. It was this intense bond with the Almighty that Abraham disrupted in order to entertain his guests.
This Midrashic interpretation of the event leaves us wondering how Abraham could push away and postpone his communion with G-d in order to deal with mortals. The Talmud (Shabbat 127a) uses this instance to teach us that extending hospitality to one’s fellow is greater than meeting with the Divine Presence – i.e. achieving great spiritual heights. Abraham demonstrated this when he abandoned G-d, so to speak, to feed and entertain these passerbys. He was willing to sacrifice his own spiritual growth and relationship with the Divine in order to provide assistance to others i