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)

At The Toronto Heschel School and in communities around the world, Jewish people are practicing the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim. We are welcoming families from Israel into our school and into our community. Hopefully, their stay will be temporary, and that Israel can live peacefully and securely with their neighbours. In the meanwhile, we welcome these new families to our school, with a full heart and a warm smile! We are so glad you have joined our Heschel community!

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!

Moreh Alan