Not At Your Expense

"Let a little bit of water be brought, please, and wash your feet…" (Genesis 18:4)

Avraham Aveinu’s generosity towards his guests was legendary. 

For example, based upon the Talmud (Bava Metzia 86b), Rashi comments that Avraham prepared three different cows for his guests, so each one would be able to eat a tongue in mustard, which is considered to be a delicacy. 

In fact, Sifsei Chachamim explains that there are three distinct parts to the tongue, so Avraham actually slaughtered three animals so as to be sure that each guest would have a sufficient portion of his favorite cut. 

There are countless other examples of Avraham’s incredible generosity towards guests. 

As such, an obvious question presents itself:

Why in this verse do we find that Avraham offered only “a little bit of water” to his guests so they could wash their feet?  Why so little, when everything else was given so freely?

One answer given is that the water was brought from a well by Avraham’s servants.  In this instance, the exertion wasn’t made by Avraham himself. 

From this we learn that while generosity is a virtue, the Torah instructs us that it’s improper to be generous or perform a mitzvah in a loftier fashion at someone else’s expense.   

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman is an internationally recognized Torah scholar, #1 best-selling author, matchmaker, entrepreneur, attorney, and media personality. His energetic and empowering messages currently reach over 350,000 people per week via social media, NYC radio, and newspaper columns worldwide. His website is and his email is