Parashat Vayera illustrates an amazing scene. God appears to Abraham as he sits at the entrance of his tent. What would you do if you received a visit from God? It clearly would be a seminal moment in your life. (I mean, it would be in mine!) And yet, what does Abraham do? He leaves to greet three travelers, asking them to stop eat something and rest. Abraham’s bold move is the ultimate example of hachnassat orchim (welcoming the guest).
As it is written in the Talmud, “R. Judah said in Rav’s name: ‘Welcoming guests is greater than welcoming the presence of the Shekhinah, for it is written, “My lords, if it please you, do not go past your servant.’” (BT, Shabbat 127a). Our tradition truly holds this value in high esteem.
The Schechter community has welcomed all of us in ways that are too numerous to count. Hopefully our children feel their school is a second home where they can grow and be nourished in ways that we can’t do alone as parents. There are lists of reasons that we choose a school for our families – often amongst them is the sense of community. But here’s the secret – it takes each of us to build the community. Our communal responsibility must be just that – shared. Today it is too easy to retreat and hunker down in our corners where we can control everything.
To build community, we must sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable. We tell this to our kids all the time – take risks, they will pay off. But we don’t always follow our own advice. Now may be one of those times to jump in and deepen our connection to the Schechter community.
I don’t know if it was bashert for me to write about this particular parsha, but the timing couldn’t be better. As you have been hearing a lot from me (and co-chair, Sydney Gross) lately about the PA sponsored Shabbat Across Schechter on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3. We each take a role in building community and doing it in a way that seems a natural part of our community’s fabric.
I hope you will join the many families that have already signed up for Shabbat Across Schechter and continue to strengthen our community.
Bil Zarch, Schechter Parent, Director of Camp Yavneh