More than the Calf Wants to Suck the Cow Wants to Suckle: The Pleasure of Him Accepting a Gift

by tillerofthesoil

“Our Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand repel and the right hand draw near” (BT Sotah 47a).

And he raised his eyes and saw, and, look, three men were standing before him. He saw, and he ran toward them from the tent flap and bowed to the ground. And he said, “אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)My lords, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be fetched and bathe your feet and stretch out under the tree, and let me fetch a morsel of bread, and refresh yourselves. Then you may go on, for have you not come by your servant? (Genesis 18:2-5).

“Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: Hospitality to wayfarers is greater than welcoming the Shekhinah, for it is written, And he said, אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), My Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not go on past‘ [Abraham thus left God, as it were, to attend to the wants of the three wayfarers, cf. BT Shevu’ot 35a]” (BT Shabbat 127a).

“The quality one conducts himself with is given to him. Abraham renders loving-kindness לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forever, since he invited everyone in the עוֹלָם (olam), world. [Offering] wayfarers food and rendering loving-kindness, he went out to meet them, as is written, and he ran toward them (Genesis 18:2). Not only that: and bowed to the ground (ibid.). This was a complete act of kindness, thus the blessed Holy One granted him the same measure, giving him the quality of חֶסֶד (Ḥesed). Therefore it is written, You give truth to Jacob, and loving-kindness to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old (Micah 7:20). What is from the days of old? To teach you that if Abraham did not do acts of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), loving-kindness, then he would not have been worthy of the quality of חֶסֶד (Ḥesed).

What is חֶסֶד (Ḥesed)? It is Torah, as is written: Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no silver (Isaiah 55:1)—silver [cf. Bahir §52: ‘To what can the matter be compared? A king had two treasuries, one of silver and one of gold. He placed silver at his right and gold at his left, saying, ‘This is prepared and easy to disburse’]. Therefore it is written, come you, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without silver and without price (ibid.). He fed you Torah and taught you, for you have already earned it through the merit of Abraham, who did acts of loving-kindness. Without silver—he would feed others; without payment—he would give them wine and milk” (Bahir §135-136).

“More than the calf wants to suck the cow wants to suckle” (BT Pesaḥim 112a).

“[What is the ruling in the case of a woman who says to a man] here are one hundred dinars and I will become betrothed to you?’ Mar Zutra ruled in Rav Pappa’s name: She is betrothed… Here the reference is [only] to an important man: in return for the pleasure from him accepting a gift from her she completely cedes herself [though normally the man must give the money (see BT Qiddushin 5b), yet if he is eminent his acceptance confers pleasure, which in turn is considered of financial value]” (BT Qiddushin 7a).

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