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ABRAHAM AND SARAH'S TENTS
May 2009
Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg

Abraham and Sarah's tents

 

Question:

 

Dear Rabbi,

 

I understand that there is a midrash that Abraham and Sarah kept their tent open on all four sides.  Can you help me locate that midrash.

 

Thanks,

David

 

Answer:

 

Dear David,

 

The source of the midrash you are looking for is in Mishna Avot 1:5 recommending that one's house should be open on four sides to let the gests in.

 

In Talmudic sources commenting on this midrash, the example given is of Job (not on Abraham) who made four entrances to his house (see in the Minor Tractates, Avot deRabbi Nathan chap.7). In the same midrash, Job is compared to Abraham and is said not to reach the level of Abraham who would go out of his house to find gests and bring them inside.

 

There must have been a parallel tradition about Abraham having the four openings to his house, as it appears in majors commentaries on the Mishna Avot cited above like for example the commentaries of R. Yona ben R. Avraham Gerondi (13 th century) and of R. Obadiah of Bertinoro (15th century).

 

It seems that even if the original midrash about the four opening was about Job, it is the tradition about Abraham that prevailed and appears in many commentaries.

 

Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg 

February 2009  

 

 
 
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Copyright 2009 The Schechter Institutes, Inc.
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