Picture the scene: You’re sitting at home on a hot summer’s day and Hashem Himself drops in to say “hi”. Every second you share with the Ultimate Guest is obviously precious, and you’d savour the experience (after you recover from the initial shock, of course).
As you sit there, basking in The Light and being inspired, you notice some scruffy passers-by. They might be looking for a handout or simply passing through the neighbourhood, it’s difficult to tell. What do you do?
Me? I’d quickly conclude that if they needed my help, they’d knock on my door. Meanwhile, I’d pay attention to what G-d has to say. After all, if He made the effort to come see me, it must be rather important.
It’s strange, then, to note the story of history’s first Jew, our Patriarch Abraham, in exactly that situation. Only, he didn’t react quite the way we would. He stopped G-d “mid-sentence” and ran off to invite three sandy desert-farers in for a meal.
Imagine that? “Just a second G-d, I have business to attend to…”
Apparently, G-d wasn’t put out by this show of chutzpah. In fact, He was quite pleased. According to the Talmud, He wanted Abraham to illustrate an essential Jewish teaching- that taking in guests is more valuable than a face-to-face with G-d.
You may recall how the sage, Hillel summarised the entire Torah for a would-be convert. To paraphrase, he said: “How you treat your fellow Jew is the litmus test of your spiritual progress”.
People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that you’re really “frum” when you hang out with G-d- at Shul, while studying or by being scrupulous about Mitzvah observance. That may be true, but when looking G-d in the eye makes you miss seeing people in distress, you’re missing the point.
Judaism, by definition, must translate into treating the next person with care, sensitivity and empathy.
And you know you’re doing it right, if you’d rather be shmoozing with Hashem.