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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Vayera

The "Eshel" Business

"Shaya, I have a great business proposition for you."

"Eli, this is really min ha'shomayim (from heaven). My store is not doing so well these days. I could use a new enterprise. What is your offer? Stocks? Real estate? Wholesale goods? Jewelry and furs?"

"None of these. I have a much better proposition. It's called the 'Eshel' business."

"'Eshel'? What's that? A new brand of super-computer?"

"No. It's very simple. The Hebrew word 'Eshel', aleph, shin, lamed, is an acronym for the words 'achila' (eating), 'shtiya' (drinking), 'lina' (sleeping).

You simply welcome guests into your home and give them food, drink, and accommodations."

"Then you hit them with a big bill afterwards and rake in the profits. That's brilliant. I'll be rich in no time. Thank you for the idea Eli. Bye."

"Wait a minute, Shaya. You've got it all wrong. You don't charge them anything."

"Nothing?!? What kind of a business is that? You lose money! Food is expensive. Serving people takes time. Time is money. Let's be serious, Eli."

"I am serious Shaya. 'Eshel' is a great business. It has been proven to reap great profits way above the time and money invested."

"Proven? When? Where? Can you show me the proof?"

"The Gemora (Bava Metzia 86b) speaks about Avraham Avinu. He welcomed the heavenly angels into his home. He served them food and drink. In exchange for these acts of chessed (kindness) Hashem Himself provided food and drink to the entire Jewish people for forty years in the desert."

"Wait a minute. Let me get my calculator. Avraham Avinu served three meals. He received in exchange three meals a day for 365 days a year for forty years for three million people. That is over 130 billion meals!!!"

"I told you that 'Eshel' is big business."


"Avraham Avinu spent his whole life welcoming guests into his home. He served many sumptuous meals to many, many people. The Chofetz Chaim explains in his sefer, 'Ahavas Chessed' (3:2) that most of these people were ungrateful and unworthy of his chessed. They were not inspired by Avraham Avinu and did not leave their idol worship to come close to Hashem. How did Hashem reward Avraham? He sent the most exalted of all beings - Heavenly Angels - disguised as regular travels. Avraham treated them royally, as he did with all of his guests. This time, the guests were deserving of the treatment, and Hashem rewarded Avraham magnificently."

"That is truly amazing, Eli. However, even that billion-fold payback is tiny in comparison to Avraham Avinu's reward in the next world for the mitzvah. 'Hachnosas Orchim' is one of those mitzvos listed as paying 'fruits' in this world, while the principal reward is reserved for the world to come (Kiddushin 39b)."

"Now you're catching on Shaya. I think that your 'Eshel' business will be a real success."

"I'm going to start cooking the meals and raking in the profits."

Kinderlach . . .

We can all welcome guests into our home. What about your classmate who walked home from school with you? Give him a cool drink and get a big mitzvah. New people in the neighborhood? Show them what nice new neighbors they have. Elderly people, newlyweds, visiting students, and others all need the warmth that you can provide. Open up your own 'Eshel' business. It's been the family business for over 3000 years.

Creative Chessed

"How was your day at school, Avi?"

"Great, Abba. We have an interesting homework assignment today."

"What is it?"

"We have to prepare a short talk about the good deeds of the person after whom we were named."

"That should be easy for you, Avi. You were named after Avraham Avinu, who loved doing chessed (acts of loving kindness)."

"Perhaps I can give a deeper explanation of that, Abba."

"Very good, Avi. Let's take an example. What would you do if an oni (poor person) came to you, starving, asking for food?"

"I would feed him."

"Good. That is called rachmonus (mercy). You have compassion on one who is suffering."

"Avraham Avinu had rachmonus."

"True, Avi. However, he had much more than that."

"What do you mean, Abba?"

"An oni asks for help. Avraham Avinu gave to those who did not even ask for help."

"That is a higher madrayga (spiritual level). What did he give them?"

"Ruchnius (spirituality) and gashmius (physical comforts). He gave them food, drink, lodgings, and escort. More importantly, he taught them to bless and thank Hashem for the good that they received."

"I see. I still sense that there was something more to his acts of chessed."

"You have a 'sixth sense', Avi. Avraham Avinu was 'plotzing' to do chessed (so to speak). The Malbim relates that he could not hold himself back from helping people."

"How is that, Abba?"

"Take the example from the beginning of this week's parasha, Avi. Avraham Avinu had just undergone bris milah three days earlier, at age 99. He was in tremendous pain. Hashem took the sun out of its sheath to make the day hot as an oven. He did not want Avraham to be troubled with guests. However, Avraham Avinu was more distressed that there were no travelers passing by to shower with chessed."

"Therefore, Hashem made three angels appear in the guise of Arabs."

"Right. Avraham was relieved, but he still had work to do until he could bestow chessed. The travelers were not planning to stop. Avraham ran out to them, bowed down, and beseeched them to rest for a moment under the shade of a tree and wash their feet."

"He was so clever! These travelers did not want to stop, so he only asked them to rest for a moment and wash their feet. He did not invite them into the tent, which would delay them. Instead, he ran out to meet them. He offered them a little bread, which was a short, quick snack."

"Very perceptive, Avi. He then rushed to his tent and had a sumptuous meal prepared for them."

"Avraham Avinu put so much of his physical and mental energy into giving."

"That is precisely the point, Avi. Bestowing chessed was the essence of Avraham's being."

Kinderlach . . .

We are all children of Avraham Avinu. His total love and dedication to chessed is ingrained within us. We see it throughout Klal Yisrael to this very day. People open "gemach's" (the letters of the word gemach are an acronym for the words "gemilus chassodim" - performing acts of loving kindness). Need to borrow money? Go to a gemach and get an interest free loan. On the road and need a place to stay for Shabbos? Call the gemach for Shabbos placements. Need to borrow anything from power tools to baby diapers to books to medical equipment? Gemach's are the place to turn. Kinderlach, you can join the gemilus chassodim bandwagon. Think of some chessed that you can provide people. Open a gemach. Be like Avraham Avinu. Put your physical and mental energy into gemilus chassodim.

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