All he said was, “please, take a bit of water…I’ll get bread, and you’ll eat until your hearts’ content…” It was just enough to convince his guests, perfect strangers, to sit in the shade for long enough for him to prepare lunch.
He rushed home, asked his wife to bake 20 lb. of flour into cakes. Meanwhile, he ran to help his son slaughter 3 cows, so that he could serve to each one of his unassuming visitors his own personal cow tongue with mustard, so that each of them would know that he was worth slaughtering a whole cow for. It was worth losing three cows’ worth of meat if necessary to convey that message to them. He rushed back with milk and butter so that they should enjoy an appetizer before the meal.
All of this, and in the end it turned out that they were angels who didn’t need food anyway, but politely pretended to eat (“when on earth do as the humans do”)
In times of campaign promises and grandiose proclamations, we are most refreshed not by the lavish meal that we’re served, but by the meager words that preceded it. The tongue speaks words so much more easily than the legs move to do what they must. It is no wonder that actions speak louder than words.
Rabbi Jack Cohen served as a campus rabbi at Meor at Penn and Israel Programs educator. His areas of interest are individuality and how we can change the way we think. He received his Rabbinic ordination in Jerusalem, and holds a BA from Penn in Physics and Philosophy. He is currently pursuing an MA in Education at Harvard.)
Based on Rashi, the Mishna in Pirkei Avot 1:14, and “Between Man & God and Man & His Fellow” by the Alter of Slobodka