Doing the right thing

Genesis 18:1-3 “VaYera”, and he saw/appeared…

וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו ה’ בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב פֶּתַח־הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם: ב וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה שְׁלֹשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים נִצָּבִים עָלָיו וַיַּרְא וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אָרְצָה: ג וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי אִם־נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ אַל־נָא תַעֲבֹר מֵעַל עַבְדֶּךָ:

  1. And the Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mamre; and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
  2. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and, lo, three men stood by him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground,
  3. And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, pass not away, I beseech you, from your servant;

Rashi’s commentary

(ב) וַיַּרְא. מַהוּ ”וַיַּרְא וַיַּרְא“ שְׁנֵי פְעָמִים, הָרִאשׁוֹן כְּמַשְׁמָעוֹ, וְהַשֵּׁנִי לְשׁוֹן הֲבָנָה, נִסְתַּכֵּל שֶׁהָיוּ נִצָּבִים בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד וְהֵבִין שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ רוֹצִים לְהַטְרִיחוֹ, (וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדְעִים הָיוּ שֶׁיֵּצֵא לִקְרָאתָם עָמְדוּ בִמְקוֹמָם לִכְבוֹדוֹ, לְהַרְאוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא רָצוּ לְהַטְרִיחוֹ, וְקָדַם הוּא וְרָץ לִקְרָאתָם, כָּךְ הַגִּרְסָא בְּרַשִׁ”י יָשָׁן) (בבא מציעא פו ע”ב), כְּתִיב “נִצָּבִים עָלָיו“ וּכְתִיב “וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם”, כַּד חָזְיוּהָ דַּהֲוָה שָׁרֵי וְאָסַר פֵּרְשׁוּ הֵימֶנּוּ, מִיָּד ”וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם“:

2. Why is {Hebrew Ref} written twice [in this verse]? The first is as it seems [i.e., and saw], whereas, the second means “understanding:” he saw them remain standing in one place and he understood that they did not wish to trouble him. He then quickly ran towards them. In Bava Metzia28 [there is another explanation]: First it says: “Standing near him” and then it says: “He ran to greet them.” [The answer is:] when they saw him as he was untying and tying [his bandages] they distanced themselves from him. Immediately, “He ran to greet them”

Torah from Sinai –

– A couple of questions regarding verse 2: Why is it that VaYera (he saw) appears twice? Seems kind of redundant, no? After all, didn’t Avraham see the guests the first time around?
– Rashi above explains that the first time he saw them, the second time Avraham realized that the strangers did not want to bother him (he was recovering from his brit milah – circumcision), so Avraham greeted them.
– I’d like to add to this comment. If we read this together with verse 3 (see above), then we can’t help but highlight that while Avraham is having a one-on-one with Gd, he has no problem turning from Gd’s divine presence so that he could welcome potential guests! In fact, Avraham’s double take was as a result of his recognizing the opportunity laid out before him – hachnasat orchim – the opportunity to invite guests to his home. Imagine yourself walking in the desert, no water, food, shelter, and the sun of course is beating down on you; now imagine that you come across a tent, and from it runs to you an individual pleading with you to come in and enjoy some food, drink, and shelter! Amazing, no? And so, Avraham knew that while he may be turning his back on Gd, Gd in fact would be waiting; On his double take Avraham saw and understood the opportunity laid out before him, Avraham was in fact doing Gd’s work here on earth.

Do the right thing.
A piece from the Sinai Narrative, Reclaiming Jewish Memory

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