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NFTY-SW D’var Torah

By Dori Singer, NFTY-SW Programming Vice-President

NFTY-SW D'var TorahCongregants of Congregation Ner Tamid and fellow NFTYites, Shabbat shalom! My name is Dori Singer. I have the honor of being the NFTY-SouthWest Programming Vice President and I am thrilled to be giving this week’s D’var Torah.

This week’s parsha starts with Abraham lying in front of his tent, sore from being circumcised. He sees three travelers passing by and invites them to stop for a meal. Little did he know that these were not ordinary travelers, but angels in disguise. It is said that each of the angels was sent for a purpose. The first angel gives the wonderful news to Sarah that she will have a child. The second angel is sent to announce the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Unexpectedly, the third angel did not bring any news, so why did he go? Rabbis have debated back and forth over the purpose of the third angel, and after centuries they eventually decided that he is sent to make sure Abraham is healing well and deliver any needed chicken noodle soup.

Abraham’s hospitality is nothing short of admirable. Despite how he is feeling, he jumps to his feet to welcome the travelers and insist that they stay for a meal. He serves them the best food from his pantry and makes sure that the travelers needs are not only met, but exceeded.

This isn’t the only time we hear of great hospitality in Judaism. For example, there once was a beggar that knocked on every door in the town, but no one would open up for him. Finally, a man opens the door and brings the beggar inside. Even when he doesn’t have enough food to feed himself, he gives the beggar a full meal. After the beggar is finished eating, he reveals his true identity, that he is Elijah the Prophet. Elijah rewards the kind man for his generosity with enough food to last him for the rest of his life.

Reading the story of Abraham, I was taken aback. Who would have thought that a story from the Torah could be so relatable to our lives? For I am too am a traveler on a voyage through my life. When I stumbled upon NFTY, its members acted like Abraham and welcomed me with open arms. Over the years it has fed me with its best meal: a helping of delicious experiences, a serving of tasty friendships, and some scrumptious memories for dessert.

On behalf of NFTY-Southwest, I’d like to personally thank Temple Ner Tamid for being our Abraham this weekend as we traveled across the deserts of the American South West, welcoming us into their homes. But as Judaism has taught us, for what you take, you must give back.  And NFTY-SW what we must give back this weekend is two-fold:

  • We have an obligation to give the good news of returning a tidy, spotless and structurally-intact temple at the end of the weekend.
  • And to show the congregation that the future generation of Judaism as a whole is in good hands.

Now I challenge you, NFTY-SW, to be like Abraham. Invite other teens in your youth groups to come to events. When you see someone you don’t know, don’t wait for them to approach you, take the initiative to introduce yourself to them. Invite someone you don’t know very well to sit with you at lunch.  Do your part to welcome and serve the best NFTY meal you can to our new visitors. As Rabbi Kerry Olizky said, “If people don’t feel comfortable in the community, they won’t stay long enough to enjoy its richness.”

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!