Is it possible to fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim with angels?

  • 2
    Might depend on if you think they're humans. Nov 9, 2014 at 2:10
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    @YeZ, if I mistakenly think these boxes have parashiyos in them, I fulfill the mitzva of t'filin?
    – msh210
    Nov 9, 2014 at 6:18
  • @msh210 that is a machlokes and YEZ will probably want to agree with the opinion that one is yotze.
    – user6591
    Nov 9, 2014 at 11:43
  • Interesting. Sort of a Cheftza/Gavra question. Is Hachnasat Orchim "I was trying to be helpful" or is it "I helped somebody in need"? Same question for any Gemilut Chasadim like giving [trying to give] charity, being friendly [but hurting feeling inadvertently], returning a [non-]lost object. Nov 9, 2014 at 11:49
  • @msh210 maybe maybe not, but if you know they don't have parashiyos, then you certainly don't. Nov 10, 2014 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


Before Matan Torah the Kavana in doing a Mitzvah was what counted not the actual action that was done. That's why the item used to do the Mitzvah did not retain Kedusha.

That explains how could Avraham Avinu, one of the Avos who was a Merkava to Hashem, make a 'mistake' by making Hashem wait while he went to do Hachnosas Orchim to Angeles that don't eat or drink. That was because he did the Mitzvah by having the Kavonah and intend to do the Mitzvah, although practically he didn't do a real Hachnosas Orchim as we know it now.

After Matan Torah the Kavana itself is not enough. You can have all the best intentions, but you still need to actually do it with something physical.

From a Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe based on memory. Traveling now so can't site the source.


I was able to find the source:

ליקוטי שיחות כרך ה, עמ' 324

Found in שולחן שבת this put more elegantly: העובדה שלא היו אלה בני אדם אלא מלאכים הייתה פחות חשובה בימיו של אברהם, שכן העיקר בימיו היה הכוונה והרגש של האדם המקיים את המצוה ולא עצם הקיום בתוך המציאות הגשמיות. אברהם נהג כדין כשעזב הקב"ה, כי מבחינתו זו הייתה הכנסת אורחים שלמה ואמיתית, שכן הוא עשה את כל התלוי בו, ומבחינת הרגש והכוונה והנכונות שלו - לא היה בזה רבב. רק לאחר מתן תורה עבר עיקר הדגש לקיום המעשי, ולכן בימינו חשובה עצם הפעולה יותר מהכוונה והרגש אם כי יש חשיבות רבה גם לכוונת המצוה כדי להביא שלמות במעשה אבל בימיו של אברהם זו הייתה מצווה שלמה בתכלית. ח)

  • I don't know if this would particularly bother your source, but it's polar opposite of Nefesh HaChaim, end of Shaar Aleph (right around ch. 21 I think). Nov 10, 2014 at 3:29
  • @YeZ it seems from hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=16051&st=&pgnum=91 that your comment on the question is correct, also according to the lubavicher rebbe (@mendelcohen please find your source)
    – hazoriz
    Nov 10, 2014 at 3:58
  • @mendelcohen i can not find page 324 in ליקוטי שיחות כרך ה hebrewbooks.org/…
    – hazoriz
    Nov 10, 2014 at 15:12
  • Shmuel: The file you are looking at only goes until page 166, middle of Vayishlach. If you look at the Mafteichos on page XII, there are Hosofos for Parshas Vayeiro on pages 312 - 336 that don't appear on this file. When I get home tonight I can scan it and email it to you if you give me your email address. Nov 10, 2014 at 21:33

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