By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, Vayeira, we find that three days after Avraham Avinu was circumcised, at the age of 99, he was sitting outside his tent already looking for guests. Even though, as our rabbis teach us, the pain involved with circumcision (b’ris milah) is greatest on the third day, such was his passion for doing acts of charity that Avraham Avinu was in more pain not being able to do acts of kindness for others than any physical pain he had suffered due to the b’ris milah.
Chazal explain that it was in a like manner of chesed that Hashem sent three angels disguised as men to the tent of Avraham, realizing that this would relieve his distress rather than burden him. The parashah explains that as soon as Avraham saw the men, he immediately got up and ran to greet them. The Tanchuma says that this act of running caused Avraham to bleed. The Midrash Tanchuma goes on to explain that in the merit of the added bleeding that he experienced from running to greet his guests, Hashem would now reward him with “two bloods”: the blood of b’ris milah for his descendants, and the blood of the Passover sacrifice.
The blood of b’ris milah comes from a transformation of our physical bodies, representing our unique connection and willingness to proclaim our complete dedication to the service of Hashem. The blood of the Passover offering came from the very lamb (which represented the epitome of Egyptian idol worship) that our nation slaughtered the night of our exodus from Egypt. The blood from this lamb served as our protection from the plague of the firstborn. We were instructed to place this blood on our doorposts, signaling the Angel of Death to pass over the Jewish people and also serving as a clear symbol to the Egyptians and the entire world of the oneness and greatness of Hashem.
We see that as a reward for Avraham Avinu’s willingness and fervor in going the extra mile for kindness, which itself is emulating Hashem in His own great and recurrent focus on doing good for all of us at all times, Avraham merited for us not just amazing mitzvos, but mitzvos whose essence would help further draw us closer to Hashem in their very embodiment.
From here we can see a powerful lesson regarding the value of kindness, and that the very foundation of a Jewish home is built on the sacrifices we make for kindness. The world was established with kindness. The home is a place where we build individual worlds, as the lives of each family member develops in the home. So when working on making our home a place of harmony and peace, we would do well to emulate how Hashem created the world, and how Avraham merited that the Jewish nation would flourish and triumph over adversity.
Kindness can be on a large public scale, but it can also be a simple matter of going out of our way for our spouses and children. By increasing the acts of kindness that come forth from our homes, we will be going in the footsteps of Avraham and we will be bringing great merits upon ourselves and our descendants. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.