Off the Pulpit

Of Hearts and Homes

There is a poignant story on kindness and status told about R. Levi Yitzchak of Bereditchev. He was passing through a town and asked of a well-known and respected member of the community if he could stay for the night. The man, having no idea it was the famous Rabbi who asked, refused, insisting “My home is not an inn for wayfarers.” The Rabbi eventually found a warm welcome and a place to stay with a poor teacher.

Later word spread that the renowned Reb Levi Yitzhak was in town and the man, now abashed, asked for forgiveness. “I did not recognize you,” he said. “Now that I know who you are, please come stay with me. My home is large and comfortable and it would be an honor.”

In response, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak explained the difference between Abraham and Lot. Each hosted angels. But with Lot it says, “And two angels came to Sodom” (Gen. 19:1). In Abraham’s case the verse reads, “And behold, he saw three people facing him” (Gen. 18:2). Lot offered hospitality to angels, Abraham saw three travelers, covered with dust from their journey, and opened his home to them.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak spent the rest of his stay with the poor teacher.