Parshas Vayeira begins by telling us that G‑d appeared to Avraham while “sitting at the entrance of his tent, in the heat of the day.”

Why was he sitting there? To look for guests. Avraham dedicated himself to deeds of kindness, feeding hungry wayfarers in an effort to heighten their awareness of G‑d.

“Days are coming, [when people will be] hungry - but not for bread, thirsty - but not for water, but to hear the word of G‑d.” And there must be Abrahams ready to provide for them.

At times, this thirst may be consciously felt, and in other instances, a person may be unaware of his own thirst. But this lack of awareness does not change the reality. At the core of every man lies a soul that was created in the image of G‑d. And every being seeks to express its fundamental identity. Therefore, when we emulate Avraham’s example and extend ourselves to these individuals, we will discover a readiness to respond that reflects their inner G‑dly nature.

The Torah reading concludes with the story of the binding of Isaac, showing Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. G‑d never desired that Isaac be slain. He did, however, desire that Abraham prove how complete his love was for G‑d by showing that there was nothing that he would hold back, even his son whom he loved dearly,.

Throughout the Bible and our prayers, this demonstration of faith is mentioned repeatedly as one of the merits of our people. The commentaries ask, however, why Abraham’s fulfillment of G‑d’s command is given this degree of importance. There are, after all, countless examples of martyrdom throughout our people’s history. Men and women were willing - and actually did - sacrifice their lives and those of their children for the sake of our Jewish heritage.

One of the explanations given is that Abraham’s nature was characterized by love and kindness. These feelings dominated his character; as indicated by the great kindness which he showed wayfarers and travelers. Therefore for him to perform an act that required him to overcome these feelings of love was doubly difficult. Nevertheless, despite these natural tendencies, he was willing to sacrifice his son.

Another assessment focuses on the eagerness with which Abraham performed G‑d’s command. He did not fulfill G‑d’s command numbly, motivated by mere obedience. Instead, although it ran contrary to his natural feelings, his commitment to G‑d was so great that he “rose early in the morning,” anxious to fulfill G‑d’s will.

A third interpretation underscores Abraham’s mission in the world at large. For years, he had preached to people of the need to worship G‑d in one’s heart and to scorn the pagan practices of human sacrifice. And now he was commanded to offer his own son. To do so would make him the laughingstock of all his neighbors and render meaningless all of his years of effort. Nevertheless, he proceeded without a thought of hesitation.

Our Sages teach “The deeds of the Patriarchs are a sign for their descendants.” Abraham’s full-hearted commitment endows us with a wealth of spiritual resources. We too can overcome our natural tendencies, rise above them in G‑d’s service and commit ourselves to Him with eagerness and desire. And we all have the power to put behind us all thoughts of our reputation, and even our own sense of what our mission is, and dedicate ourselves to fulfilling His command without hesitation or doubt.