Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Parshas Vayeira begins by telling us that G-d appeared to Avrohom Avinu while “sitting at the entrance of his tent, in the heat of the day.”

Why was Avrohom Avinu sitting there? Because he was looking for guests. Avrohom Avinu dedicated himself to doing deeds of kindness by feeding hungry wayfarers. Avrohom knew that by feeding them he would be able to reach their inner being and be able to strengthen their connection with G-d.

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Avrohom Avinu prepared the “plan of action” for all of his grandchildren, throughout the generations, who would dedicate themselves to “outreach” in trying to help another person. Avrohom Avinu was the originator of the philosophy that “You cannot preach religion on an empty stomach.” This life approach is as strong now as it was then. The first thing you do is provide guests with their physical needs. Give them food and drink and a place to rest. After that, you give them “an ear to listen.” Give them a chance to talk and listen to what they have to say. After that, you can ask them what the first step is, however small, that they would feel comfortable with. Be careful. Be sensitive. Do not try to push too much. The softer your approach the greater will be the results.

If you are new in a community and you want to do “outreach,” what do you do? Where do you start? You copy a page out of the book of Avrohom Avinu! You invite some people to your house to be your Shabbos guests. You prepare a nice “Shabbos table,” with Shabbos candles, wine, Kiddush and a hearty Jewish Shabbos meal. You sing some Shabbos songs or Jewish songs that may be a bit familiar to your guests. You say a dvar Torah on the level of your guests. The guests will see the beauty and serenity of a Shabbos table and will get, even if just a little taste, of our glorious tradition. Do not worry if you do not see “earth-shattering” results the first week. You are guaranteed that your efforts will resonate even if you don’t see immediate results.

For the most part, you will be able to see something – such as a small change in attitude, a keener interest in tradition, or a positive comment.

This is an iron-clad plan that has worked for Jewish families for generations. Championed by Avrohom Avinu and emulated by his grandchildren for generations.

The main staples on the table of Avrohom Avinu were meat and wine. Avrohom Avinu didn’t look to get away on “some refreshments.” He gave the people a full meal although his tent was in a desert. He then tried to introduce to them the concept of G-dliness.

It also comes with the general commitment of tzedakah and chesed – the kindness and benevolence that Avrohom Avinu bequeathed to his children and grandchildren.

In this day and age, it has been proven, over and over again, that the only approach with our youth that works is the approach of Avrohom Avinu.

A modern middle-aged couple came to see the Rebbe complaining about their teenage son, asking the Rebbe what to do. The Rebbe said, “Love him,” and the mother said, “How can I love him he doesn’t eat kosher?”

The Rebbe said, “Love him more.” Then the father said, “How can I love him – he doesn’t put on tefillin?” and the Rebbe said, “Love him more.”

It’s the message of Avrohom Avinu.

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at Lubavitchyouth@gmail.com.