When a small act becomes the main event

איור: אהובה קליין
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Stop. The Torah interrupts the narration of dramatic events that start with the creation of the universe and continue with the flood, only in order to describe in detail a seemingly insignificant act: how someone invites guests into his tent and shows them hospitality. How Avraham Avinu runs after three strangers in the desert in order to ask how they are and to give them food and drink.

Many commentators write that there is a lesson here, that the purpose of this description of welcoming guests is to teach us that this is actually the main event. The Torah is not a scientific or historical book. The word "Torah" is derived from the word for instruction. Its purpose is to instruct, to guide, to educate. Therefore it tells us almost nothing about all the nations and kings that rose and fell during that time, but it does pause and include many passages when the subject is welcoming guests.

The Torah describes events that transpired over thousands of years in a few passages, but when there is an important lesson to teach we are forced to pause, to study what is happening in depth, and to draw the proper conclusions.

All such "small" acts we do in the course of our lives that no researcher or journalist would notice, all our tiny good deeds, seemingly devoid of drama, may ultimately be the most significant and influential of all. And perhaps the moment for such an act on our part is waiting for us this very moment. Shavua tov.

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