Parashat Vayera: One Difference between Avraham Avinu and Lot

[Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Bereshit p. 171 – edited by Rav Aviner]

Both Avraham Avinu and Lot welcomed in guests in our parashah, but there is a major difference between them. There is a story about a great Rabbi who was delayed in his travels and was unable to find lodging at such a late hour. He knocked on the doors of the Jewish houses, but did not reveal that he was an important person. He knocked on the door of a wealthy person and the owner yelled at him: "This is not a hotel! This is a private home! No and no!" In the end, a simple Jew welcomed him in. His identity became known in no time and word quickly spread throughout the city that the famous Rabbi was there. Everyone came to visit him, including the wealthy man who had said that his house was not a hotel, and he jumped forward and said: "Rabbi, Rabbi, come with me. I will provide you with a spacious room." This is the difference between Avraham Avinu and Lot. Avraham Avinu welcomed in "men" (Bereshit 18:2), while Lot welcomed in "angels" (ibid. 19:1). It is certainly worthwhile to welcome in angels, they are important, but Avraham Avinu welcomed in men. We clearly see the humanity and righteousness that we must possess in relation to simple people. The incredible greatness Avraham Avinu possessed toward Hashem flowed directly into his humanity towards human beings.