These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

To Turkey with Love

Posted on January 10, 2014 by Andrea Wiese

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Tonight, I am sharing this dvar with the community
of Istanbul tonight on Shabbat:

Andrea WieseWhen I think about Turkey, and specifically visiting Turkey, I think about hospitality. I have lived in a lot of places and countries, but no place in the world receives guests like Turks.

Some may argue that it’s because of Islam: Muhammad said, “Let the believer in Allah…honor his neighbor….and honor his guest.”

But long before Muhammad, Avraham also greeted three guests at his tent entrance. As they were passing he said, וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ אַל נָא תַעֲבֹר מֵעַל עַבְדֶּךָ: Bresheit: 18:3 He said, “Lord,” if only I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass on from beside your servant.” He goes out to make sure they don’t pass and brings them into his tent. This in itself it impressive – he reaches out to them and later washes their feet, and feeds them. (They in turn bring the good news that Sarah is going to become pregnant!)

But there is something deeper in Avraham’s actions. Rashi notes that the sentence says “אֲדֹנָי” or “lord” in the singular, – this is weird because there are three guests, so he can’t be talking to the men, Rashi says that Avraham was talking to God and saw the men coming, He says to God, “Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass on from beside your servant.” Avraham is saying to God, please wait so I can go run and greet these strangers. It’s unbelievable.

The Talmud (- Shevuot 35b – Talmud Bavli ) talks about this situation and comments,
“Receiving guests is greater than receiving the Divine Presence”.

So in short, thank you for being like Avraham and showing us unprecedented hospitality. Shabbat shalom