In this week’s parsha, Parshas Vayeira, we read about how Avraham told his guests, "I will fetch a morsel of bread that you may sustain yourselves." (Bereishis 18:5) but when it came to actually serving the food, he had a lavish meal prepared for the visitors. The Talmud (Bava Metzia 87a) illustrates here that "the righteous say little and do much." This is important in hachnassas orchim especially. Often when we invite guests we tell them how wonderful a time they are going to have and promise them things that in the end we cannot give them, be it our time, attention, food, drink or accommodation, through no ill will of our own. It is better not to promise too much comfort but then to provide more than we have promised. Not only did Avraham provide more than he had promised, he did everything himself and solicitously stood by his guests as they partook of the meal.
Lest we think that Avraham's treatment of his guests was something someone only on his level could achieve, we need not look so far back in time. A visitor recalls his visit to Reb Elyah Lopian after Tzom Gedaliah when Reb Elyah was already in his 90s.
"Reb Elyah's first question was whether I had eaten yet," recalls Mr. Jakobovits. "It was shortly after the end of the fast, and I told him in all honesty that I hadn't. He brought me into the dining room filled with bachurim. He sat at the head table, and sat me down next to him, while someone brought me a cup of coffee and something to eat. I chose not to drink the coffee right away.
"Seeing this, Reb Elyah rose from his seat and went to the other table to bring me some sugar. In his weakened state he could barely walk, but he brought the sugar and put some into my cup, although I certainly had not asked him to do this. Someone else could easily have seen to my needs, but Reb Elyah would not have allowed it. There was a chesed to be done, and he would not have allowed any physical difficulties of his own to prevent him from performing this chesed personally."
(Reb Elyah, Rabbi David J. Schlossberg, p.88)
There was a time I went away for shabbos and was told I will be staying in someone’s basement. Nothing more was said. When I got there, the place was set up so beautifully and so fancy! It looked like a hotel. There was a mini fridge in the closet with cold soda, the drawers were filled with Mishpacha Magazines to read, there were a few leather siddurim and leather krias shema cards in another drawer in the night table…I felt so important! I was treated like a queen and felt so special to have such a stunning place set up for me to stay at. This is the way to do this special mitzvah of hachnosas orchim – and without saying much. The hosts of this house truly epitomized “emor me’at v’asay harbei” – say a little and do a lot! Mi K’amcha Yisroel!!