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"Then Avraham ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it" (Bereishis 187). Rashi brings the explanation of the Gemara that actually Avraham took three calves so that he might give his guests to eat three tongues together with mustard.
We find several times in Chazal that the wicked do not do favors with completeness. Even if they do try to help someone, they do it half-heartedly and only perform the bare minimum which they feel definitely required to do. Righteous people, on the other hand, go out of their way to be absolutely sure that the charitable acts which they perform are whole and complete.
Avraham was 99 years old and underwent a major circumcision operation that morning. Hashem made the sun especially hot so that Avraham should not be bothered with guests, but when He saw that he could not live without them Hashem conceded and sent him angels in the form of men. Avraham ran around himself, though he had many servants, preparing the finest delicacies; and yet he wasn't satisfied to prepare one animal for them to share, but brought three calves so that each guest could have his very own tongue!
So was Avraham; and so have been all of the true tzaddikim all through the generations.
This last Tuesday, the sixteenth of Mar-Cheshvan, was the first yahrtzeit of Harav Shach zt"l. In the fantastic book Lulei Sorasechah, Rav Shach's grandson, Asher Bergman, brings an unbelievable story related by one of the rabbi's closest students, Rabbi Meir Heizler shlita.
On one of Rav Shach's trips to Jerusalem (he lived in B'nei Berak), he visited someone whom he felt a debt of gratitude to. The Rabbi was already world renowned, and so the street was black with people who crowded together to catch a glimpse of the leader of his generation. The fellow being visited was duly honored by the event. But the Rosh Yeshiva was not satisfied with that. He brought with him a game for his children.
We would all surely agree that the Rabbi fulfilled his obligation, but he was not content. He called all of the children together, asked them to sit around the table, and began teaching them how to play the game! Surely now he had done all that he had to. But no. The Torah Giant told them that he wanted to observe how they played to be sure that they understood the instructions fully. After a little while, it was clear that they had not yet caught on. So the Rav told them that he would go over the rules with them again and he did not leave the house until he was convinced that all of them knew how to play properly.
To Rav Shach zt"l, the mitzvah of giving someone a present owed to him was no different from the mitzvah of eating matzah or putting on tefillin. And just as a pious person exerts himself to do that and other mitzvahs perfectly; so do the righteous exert themselves to do favors to others with wholeness.
Another story related there is that, when the Rebbetzin was sick, Rav Shach was seen carrying home a pot of food from the yeshiva for her. Someone ran over to take it from him and bring it to his apartment arguing that it did not befit the Rosh Yeshiva to carry a pot in the street. However, Rav Shach refused to allow him to take it from him arguing, "If you would see me carrying a Lulav and Esrog would you take that from me too? Of course not. So what is the difference between that mitzvah and the mitzvah of caring for my wife? Nothing, and I don't want to give it away to anyone else!"
Let us learn to go in the ways of the tzaddikim and we will be eternally blissful; in this world and the World-to-Come.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network