We see that Avraham was not only a man of chessed inside the home, but also a proactive person of chessed and we can learn many things from this story of Avraham.
Allow me highlight only 10 of them:
- We see that when Avraham offered meals to his guests, he chooses the finest types of food to serve them. He could have served mac and cheese and I’m sure his guests would have been perfectly fine. But he didn’t, because, when performing chessed, you should do it with your finest!
Takeaway: Offer the highest quality chessed.
- Avraham could have waited for the chessed to come to him. Instead, he waited outside his tent in the hope of finding chessed.
Takeaway: If you proactively look for chessed opportunities, you will find them.
- Do it yourself. Yes, being a director of a chessed organization or NGO does not mean you don’t have to “stoop down” to the level of a volunteer. I most respect the organizations, whose CEO also does the “mundane tasks” himself. Avraham ran to assist his guests. You try running 3 days post-circumcision!
Takeaway: Do chessed yourself, even if you can outsource it.
- Besides involving himself in a highly proactive way, Avraham was able to recruit others, including his wife and Yishmael.
Takeaway: Involve others in your chessed for maximum effect.
- The angels, being angels and all, did not technically need to eat the food that Avraham offered them.
Takeaway: When offered chessed, take it. If everybody gave and nobody received, chessed would cease to exist.
- We see that Avraham bowed down to his guests and essentially begged his guests to join him for a meal. Seeing people walking alone in a desert, it’s obvious that they could use a fresh meal. However, he saved them the opportunity of asking, by offering it first. Takeaway: When offering chessed, respect the person you are offering chessed to.
- Avraham instructed his guests to bathe their feet, as (per Rashi’s understanding) he thought that they were Arabs who worship to the dust of their feet, and he was strict not to allow any idolatry into his house. Aside from leaving the comfort zone of only helping one’s own, Avraham managed to find the middle ground of offering his guests a proper welcome, all while not allowing idolatry into his home.
Takeaway: Doing chessed doesn’t mean compromising on one’s personal values.
- Avraham started off with a first course that was instantly served, followed by a main meat course.
Takeaway: Offer chessed with logic, not just for the sake of chessed.
- The Passuk says that he “stood over them under the tree and they ate.” This means that Avraham didn’t only feed his guests but actively engaged them in conversation.
Takeaway: Don’t simply provide food or practical support. Also offer other support, by engaging them in conversation, for example.
- When the angels stated that Avraham and Sara would have a child, Avraham stayed collected and didn’t say anything, even though it was conceptually hard to understand how they could have a child, as Sara was very old at the time.
Takeaway: When people you offer chessed to, say or do “interesting things,” it’s not your job to correct or fix them. Your only job is to offer chessed.
In today’s world, there are so many opportunities for chessed, be it to soldiers, soldiers’ families, injured people in hospitals, displaced communities or supporting effected businesses. It’s not only about chessed, but it’s also about how you do chessed for maximum impact.
With the amount of chessed and unity going on today, it’s no wonder that we are rapidly moving to the times of Mashiach.
More on that next week….