Thanks, God, for the Guests!
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
At the beginning of our parasha Abraham is sitting in his tent when God appeared to him. He sees three men nearby. The Torah says: “And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw, and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground. And he said, “My lords, if only I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass on from beside your servant. Please let a little water be taken, and bathe your feet, and recline under the tree. And I will take a morsel of bread, and sustain your hearts; after[wards] you shall pass on, because you have passed by your servant.” And they said, “So shall you do, as you have spoken” (Genesis 18:3-5).
This is considered a classic Jewish source for Hachnasat Orchim, the mitzvah of welcoming guests. As you may know, inviting and welcoming guests is considered a great commandment, a great honor, and a great pleasure at the same time. That is why you will see observant people trying to have guests whenever they are able to, especially for Shabbat and festival meals.
Among the verses I quoted above, you can find Abraham telling his prospective guests,
“וְאֶקְחָה פַת לֶחֶם וְסַעֲדוּ לִבְּכֶם”