Abraham was the first Jewish luminary. And we can all take a page out of his playbook.

The story of Abraham’s life is primarily told in two portions of the Torah, Lech Lecha and Vayera. In the first portion of Abraham's story, Abraham comes across as a deeply spiritual person. The Torah tells how he traveled the land and of the altars he built for G‑d in every place that he went. Toward the end of the first portion, G‑d introduces a new idea to Abraham. No longer will it suffice for Abraham to be a spiritual person. From now on, Abraham's task will be to connect the spiritual with the physical. Abraham is commanded to circumcise himself, fulfilling G‑d's commandment “My covenant will be in your flesh.” From here on, Abraham’s mission is to teach how the spiritual covenant must express itself in the tangible physical world.

The second portion, Vayera, opens with Abraham, on the third day after his circumcision, sitting at the opening of his tent seeking guests. It’s an exceedingly hot day, and there’s no one in sight, yet Abraham sits there, waiting and hoping to find someone to invite into his home. As the Torah tells us:

Now the L‑rd appeared to him in the plains of Mamre, and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot. 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.1

The opening phrase is “the L‑rd appeared to him.” As a result of this Divine revelation, Abraham reached a greater level of kindness. Typically, a kind person will express kindness when he or she sees someone in need, or at least someone who can receive the kindness. In this scene, Abraham was sitting at the opening of his tent looking to express kindness even when there was no one in sight who was in need of kindness. Abraham’s heart was overflowing with love. For the more Abraham experienced the presence of G‑d, the more he transcended himself and sought to connect and share with other people.2

The verse continues, “and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot.” The literal translation of the verse is “he was sitting at the entrance of the tent like the heat of the day.” Not “in the heat of the day,” but “like the heat of the day.” The verse implies that Abraham himself was like the “heat of the day.”3 Abraham was like the sun, spreading warmth, love and enlightenment.

Many spiritual seekers seek to escape worldly distractions and seek enlightenment in solitude. The more enlightenment they experience, the more removed they become from the rest of society. But Abraham taught us that the closer one comes to spirituality, holiness and transcendence, the more the person will “sit at the opening of the tent,” seeking to express kindness even when the need is not immediately present before him or her. The closer one comes to G‑d, the more he or she will be “like the heat of the day,” like the sun, expressing warmth and friendship to all.