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A Tree, an Orchard, and a 5-Star Hotel

A Tree, an Orchard, and a 5-Star Hotel

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This week's Torah Portion focuses on the life and times of our patriarch Abraham, the first Jew. Every incident in his life is significant and contains valuable insights for us, his descendants.

The Torah states that, "Abraham planted an aishel (tree) in Beer Sheva" (Genesis 21:33). What should we learn from this? The importance of Arbor Day? That Abraham was a tree-hugging Hippie? How can the environmentally friendly person (who already carpools, recycles, and refuses to shop at Home Depot or buy non-fair trade coffee) apply this teaching?

It is known that Abraham was in the business of welcoming guests. He invited complete and total strangers to come into his tent, eat his food, drink his wine, and relax from their journey. Abraham was a real mentsch.

Abraham was in the business of welcoming guestsIt just so happened that he worked in the desert. Due to a tremendous lack of shade he planted a tree. What better way to welcome a sweaty wayfarer than with a well-shaded seat?

As the saying goes, "two Jews three opinions"—so too in our case. The Talmud lists two other opinions as to the nature of this aishel. According to one opinion it was not a shade tree, but rather an entire orchard of fruit trees. Once again Abraham's focus was on the guests. Wouldn't it be lovely after a long trek through the desert to run into a ripe piece of fruit? I think so.

A third opinion maintains that Abraham built an entire five-star hotel complex, complete with a swanky lounge and full service restaurant. Yet again Abraham's objective was to provide fabulous service to the weary traveler.

The lesson contained here is timeless and it is not a call to join the hotel industry or the Sierra Club. Abraham represents the embodiment of kindness. He did not merely give his guests the minimal requirements for survival – tepid water, stale bread, and a pinch of salt – rather he gave them fabulous food and displayed tremendous hospitality.

Each us has inherited Abraham's attribute of kindness, hence we have the capacity to give of ourselves in the same manner as Abraham. We can assist and help others not only with their vital necessities but rather we can go above and beyond the call of duty and help others in a truly limitless fashion.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Simcha Levenberg is a writer searching for the meaning of life in Los Angeles
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Chaim Leime Teleshevsky S.M., CA via chabadonmontana.com October 21, 2007

Helping others Thank You.

Just to add... I think that a very valueable resource we've all been provided with, that we can actually share, is Time. its valueable to others in many ways and practical for us to share... Reply

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