From G‑d's visit to Abraham in this week's Torah portion, we learn how each of us must be selfless. The portion begins, "And G‑d showed Himself to Abraham". Rashi says that G‑d came to visit Abraham specifically on the third day of recuperating from his circumcision, when the pain is greatest; he concludes his explanation saying that G‑d came to ask Abraham how he was. The Taz asks why Rashi mentioned G‑d's asking after Abraham's well-being if he already said that G‑d came to visit Abraham in his illness. (Divrei Dovid) Our Sages have taught that a person who visits his age peer who is ill actually helps to heal him, by removing 1/60 of their illness. If this is true of a person visiting his age peer, how much more so would we assume it to be true regarding the visit of the Almighty.

…we are commanded to act like G‑d.

But this answer leads to another question. On this same day, and in the midst of G‑d's visit, three angels came to Abraham, one of whom was the archangel Michael, whose mission was to heal Abraham. Why did G‑d send His angel, if He Himself had already come to visit Abraham? Actually, this question is the answer to our first question: G‑d asked after Abraham's well-being since His purpose of revealing Himself to Abraham was not to heal him but rather just to ask him how he was.

This explains the teaching that we are commanded to act like G‑d. (Sotah 14) Just as G‑d visits the ill, so we have to visit the ill. What is the foundation of this comparison between G‑d and people? Obviously, most people are not the same age as the ill person and therefore will not at least in part heal them by their visit, while we can assume that G‑d will at least do that. Now we can really understand Rashi's statement that G‑d's purpose was to see how Abraham was: the lesson is that visiting the sick is a behavior of G‑d that we are commanded to emulate, even if we are not able to heal the person by visiting. This does not apply only to visiting the sick, but through anything we do for another Jew - we must act selflessly, doing acts of kindness for their own sake.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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