This week's parasha begins with Abraham welcoming guests, who are, in fact, messenger angels. The Talmud writes that taking in guests is "greater than receiving the Divine Presence" (Shabbat 127a), and we see that Abraham interrupted a revelation from G‑d in order to invite passers-by to his home.

Be happy, and then (you may) approach G‑d…

Divrei Elimelech asks, " How could it be that in the midst of this prophecy, Abraham asks G‑d to wait while he invites guests into his home? How could Abraham interrupt G‑d on the grounds of being hospitable? Surely, one would not interrupt a meeting with a very important person in order to speak to " simple folk" ; how much more so when speaking to G‑d Himself! An analogy can answer this question: A son wants his father to come visit. Of course, a father is much happier to see his son when the son is joyous than when his son is distressed and unhappy. Therefore, the son will choose a time for the visit when he is an appropriate mood. This way the son redoubles his father's joy in visiting his son. About what was Abraham so distressed that he wanted to postpone his conversation with G‑d?

Every Jew is connected to Abraham, and his deeds affect his descendents forever. G‑d's revelation of the difficult future exiles of the Jews was very upsetting to Abraham. Abraham was the embodiment of the attribute of kindness, chesed. He wanted kindness to be drawn into those years of exile in order to "sweeten the severity" , empowering the Jews to persevere. When the guests arrived in the midst of the revelation, Abraham deduced that they were connected to the issue, and the key to helping his descendents in their exiles. Therefore, Abraham excused himself from his conversation with G‑d. By taking care of his guests, and asking them to bless G‑d for providing their needs, he brought chesed into the times of exile. His disposition soon changed to one of great enthusiasm upon tending to his guests. Abraham was relieved and happy to know that his descendents would experience chesed even under the burdens of exile. Through the joy of attaining his goal, Abraham knew he would be better prepared to finish his discussion. G‑d certainly would prefer to see his child in a happy frame of mind than the opposite. This is as it says (Psalm 101) "Serve G‑d with joy; come before him with joy"; be happy, and then approach G‑d.

May we merit to serve G‑d and connect to Him - and may we do so amidst happiness, thereby increasing His joy in us. May we experience the chesed of the end of the exiles with the redemption, NOW!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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