Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 19:45:33 EST
Subject: Re: Nachum's Dvar Torah
Shalom Nachum

I think I already wrote to you a brief appreciation of your thoughts about
Lech Lecha and Escorting Guests [See verse Bereshit 12:20] and on second reading I enjoyed them again.  It takes up a perhaps unusual subject [one I have never heard discussed, anyway] in a clear and cogent way, and relates the question of 'escorting' to the wider goal of, "Loving your neighbor as yourself."  

First you suggest it is a good, holy thing to do:  then you add that NOT doing it is quite serious,
like a murder !    So, 'Do it !' for a good reason, but to 'Not do it' is much, much worse...  [Do it out of Love: or, do it out of Fear.  Just do it ! ]

Nice distinction.

Perhaps escorting fellow human beings could be related to our need to follow G-d in general:  that is, 'To walk with G-d.' ?   To walk with Him is to imitate Him, but surely as we walk with Him, He walks with us.  When we escort [and do NOT turn away our countenance from] our fellow man, we concretize our being made in His image, conceived in a humble way.  That is, who are we to turn away our contenance from our fellow man ?  And should we do that, what could we expect to be our 'Reward' from Hashem ?  [Again: Help your fellow man out of a G-d-like love;  or, out of fear.  Just do it ! }

I also liked the way you turned some mundane, logical thinking on its head, as follows:

Often the thought crosses the mind of the potential host, "Why does he come to me, there are plenty of hotels." This is a legitimate argument.

"All the more reason to praise someone who generously does open his house to a stranger. The person maybe should not be asking you for a place to stay, but that doesn't mean you don't have to give him a place to stay."

Simple thought, but so powerful ! !

And then you close with another deft turn of phrase:

"It may be argued that now-a-days strangers may be very dangerous. But, it is likely they were just as dangerous in the times of the Rabbis. In fact, if a stranger seems to be dangerous then one should not invite him.

"But often the stranger is not dangerous. He's just strange."

I smile at the pun:   although I do not know if the words can be used that way in Hebrew ?

Finally, by one of those 'coincidences' that may not be a mere coincidence, my Kaballah class read, this past week, half of Chapter  34, page 153 from the  Tanya, which says:

"But since the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, blessed be He, has no other sanctuary or established place for His habitation, that is, for His blessed Unity, than the 'Four cubits of halachah... "

By this, I take it, is meant one can perform mitzvahs only on the Earth, itself, since, as I understand, the number four [and the square letter hay] refer to the Earth. 

So I wonder, perhaps, on another level what is signified,  is that to walk FOUR cubits, or to walk FOUR steps means to enact those mitzvahs which may be performed on Earth, in fact, ONLY on Earth.  Which is, of course,  [one of] the prime understandings of why He created the Universe in the first place:  as a place where man could perform mitzvahs, and thereby unify the Earth with Heaven.

Anyway, I found it a fine piece, and I will never read about Pharaoh sending Abraham away, in the same way, again.

Thanks so much for sharing this with me.. .. ..

Wishing you health, happiness, safety and a reasonable amount of abundance, now and forever,

Love,   Dad