In this Perasha we meet Avraham Avinu. He is best remembered for his chesed – acts of kindness. Both in the Tanach and in the Midrashim we see him go far out of his way to be kind. This is most noticed when he defended the residents of Sedom before G-d. another instance is when he actually told G-d to wait until he took care of some guests.
Being nice to other people even if they live in Sedom is a wonderful way to enjoy life and to make others enjoy life.
There is a famous mishna which appears in Masechet Peah. It says the following:
These are the acts which if a person does them he will eat their fruits in this world and a store house is filled for him in the next world: Honoring your parents, doing kindness, and bringing peace between friends and the study of Torah is as great as all of them put together.
Several hundred years after the writing of the Mishna rabbis in the period of the Gemara said similar statements to the one in the mishna. They, however, added several things which are not in the mishna. Two of these are building a synagogue, and having guests in your house. The Gemara concludes by saying that the additions are really included in the concept of chesed.
By building a Synagogue and by having guests over your house you are doing a wonderful chesed to people. When done correctly these two mitzvot serve to bring people closer.
Look at most Synagogues and you will see that the participants are from different backgrounds. They make many friends, very often people meet their spouse at Shul, business associates are made, and most importantly people together pray to G-d.
Through the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim – having guests people get similar benefits.
For generations, both in Brooklyn and in Israel, my family practiced the mitzvah of having guests. Every single shabat my grandmother would have some forty people over for hors-derves. Most of the people were family and many were admirers of our family. This cohesiveness affected my outlook on life.
When I lived in The Old City we were a little more modest and regularly had ten to fifteen people over for Shabat meals. My most important connections which I have with different people are all through hachnasat orchim – having guests.
This is why the Mishna says that you eat the fruits and benefit in this world as well as receiving reward in the world to come.