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    Horses for courses – Vayyishlach

    The readings at this time of year deal in detail with the travels and sojourns of Jacob and Joseph.

    In relation to Jacob’s departure from Beer Sheba, the sages say that when a righteous person leaves a place he leaves a gap, and when he arrives at his destination he immediately makes an impression.

    If, however, the inhabitants of the new place do not want to know who it is that has arrived, they do themselves a dis-service.

    We see this in relation to the people of Sodom who were known for their lack of welcome and hospitality towards strangers, both visitors and new settlers. All that the inhabitants of Sodom achieved by their unfriendly policy was to bring upon themselves their own destruction.

    It is an old-new problem. There is a story that a great tzaddik who did not want to show off his eminence arrived at a town dressed unimpressively. When he asked if he could stay at the home of the president of the community, the latter refused. He catered only to VIPs, not to ordinary people.

    Years later, the tzaddik visited again, this time in a chariot with six horses. The entire town went out to greet him, and the head of the community told the tzaddik’s secretary that he would like the great man to stay at his home.

    The tzaddik told his secretary, “Take the horses and bring them to the president’s home; I am going to stay at the house where they made me welcome last time.”

    Shocked, the president ran to the tzaddik to seek an explanation.

    The tzaddik said, “I am the same person who was here a few years ago and asked to stay at your home. I have not changed since then – apart from the fact that then I came alone, and today I brought six horses. What impresses you is the horses. Let them be your guests for the weekend!”

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