The Middat HaShavuah is taken from our Torah portion, Parshat Vayera. The Middah is:
וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל
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.
- Smiling helps you live longer
- Smiling relieves stress
- Smiling elevates mood
- Smiling is contagious
- Smiling boosts the immune system
- Smiling may lower blood pressure
- Smiling reduces pain
- Smiling makes you more attractive
- 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!