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“While he was sitting at the entrance of the tent.” (18:1)

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Rashi states that Avraham Avinu sat at the entrance of the tent in order to see an “oveir v’shav” – passersby, who might be going  “back  and  forth.”  Interestingly,  Rashi  bases  his exegesis on the Midrash which uses the word, “orchim,” guests, in contrast to the phrase which Rashi selects, “oveir v’shav.” Does Rashi suggest a specific reason for deviating from the Midrashic text? Horav Mordechai HaKohen, z.l., renders his words homiletically. “Oveir” is the root of “aveirah,” sin, and “shav” is the root of “teshuvah,” repentance. Inclusive in the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim, hospitality to wayfarers, which addresses their physical needs, Avraham also cared for the guests’ spiritual deficiencies. He reached out to all people, seeking to infuse them with belief in the Almighty.

Avraham sat at the “pesach ha’ohel,” entrance/opening of the tent. He attempted to find an opening, a reason to inspire the traveler’s regret, an opening to catalyze his path to repentance. He sought to bring the “oveir,” sinner, to the level of “v’shav,” teshuvah, repentance. He performed a “full service” hachnosas orchim by ministering to the spiritual, as well as physical, needs of the passerby.

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