The Middat HaShavuah is taken from our Torah portion, Parshat Vayera. The Middah is: 

וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל

(בראשית יח:ב)

Middah: Be welcoming

In this week’s Parsha, Avraham establishes himself as the standard bearer for what it means to be a welcoming host. The Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim is largely based on Avraham’s actions in this week’s Parsha.

In another text about being welcoming, the sage Shammai is quoted as saying:

שַׁמַּאי אוֹמֵר, עֲשֵׂה תוֹרָתְךָ קֶבַע. אֱמֹר מְעַט וַעֲשֵׂה הַרְבֵּה, וֶהֱוֵי מְקַבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת 

“Make your [study of the] Torah a fixed practice; speak little, but do much; and receive all people with a pleasant countenance.” (Pirkei Avot 1:15) 

Greeting everyone with a pleasant countenance is just a fancy way of saying “be welcoming with a smile.” In Avot D’Rabbi Natan, which is a commentary on Pirkei Avot, it expounds on this verse as follows: “Receive all people with a pleasant countenance. How so? This teaches that if a person gives his friend all the finest gifts in the world, but does so with a pained face, the Torah considers it as if he had given him nothing. But one who receives his friend with a smile, even if he gives him nothing, the Torah considers it as if he had given him all the finest gifts in the world.” (Avot D’Rabbi Natan 13:4)

Social scientists have demonstrated some of the benefits of smiling.

  1. Smiling helps you live longer
  2. Smiling relieves stress
  3. Smiling elevates mood
  4. Smiling is contagious
  5. Smiling boosts the immune system
  6. Smiling may lower blood pressure
  7. Smiling reduces pain
  8. Smiling makes you more attractive
  9. Smiling helps you stay positive

So, remember, not only is it important to be welcoming, let’s all remember to turn that frown upside down and do it with a smile. Who knows? By being welcoming you might not only be helping out a stranger, but when you do it with a smile, it may be a benefit to you as well!

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!

Moreh Alan

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