Saturday night, November 4, 2017, Judea, Israel
15 Heshvan, 5778 (Hebrew date)
There is a great deal we are still learning from our forefathers, as we say, "The actions of the fathers are a sign to the sons" and Father Abraham is still teaching us.
This morning we read the story where Abraham is sitting at the entrance of his tent and three strangers approach. He rushes towards them to greet them, they will be his guests. In fact this one episode becomes the standard and the guide book for all Jewish hosts for the next 3,500 years.
We model our hospitality after this example set by Abraham. For example it says that as his guests were leaving Abraham walked with them a little, to accompany them on their way out. This is still practiced by religious Jews to this very day. I stopped by to visit my neighbors last night after the Sabbath meal. As I left my host Michael got up and walked me out to the street. Every time we do this we are following the example set by Abraham.
But today I want to focus on a different lesson from this story; good business practice and good business ethics, and I believe they go hand in hand.
Abraham makes an offer, he says, "Let a little water be taken, and wash your feet, and rest a little under the tree, and I will get a morsel of bread, nourish your hearts and move on." (Genesis chapter 18, 3,4)
The respond, "Yes, do as you have spoken".
Now this is not a business transaction but yet it is. It does not matter that no money is involved, it is still an agreement. Often people will offer to do something, for free, as a favor, and then not come through and leave you stranded. They will then argue, "but it was only a favor, I was not being paid for this! what can you expect of me?" (which really feels great when you have just missed your flight).
What can I expect? I expect you to behave as Abraham did: Keep your word. If you offer to take someone to the airport but then oversleep or forget, you have reneged on a deal, you have violated a word of honor and it makes not the slightest little bit of difference that no money was involved in this transaction. Learn from Abraham: a deal is a deal, money or not. The three guests respond, "Do as you have spoken" even though they were not paying for this service.
What does Abraham do next? He involves his entire household in serving his guests. "And Abraham hurried back into the tent to Sarah (his wife) and said hurry and prepare three measures of fine meal, knead it and make cakes. And Abraham ran to the herd and took a tender quality calf and gave it to his servant and said, prepare this, and he hurried to prepare it."
We see that Abraham not only kept his word but far exceeded it. And he did it in great haste. He got his team to work preparing the finest meal for his guests even though all he promised was a small measure of water and a morsel of bread.
"And he (Abraham) took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared and set it before them (the guests) and he stood by them under the tree and they ate".
So we see here that Abraham himself, despite having a servant, served the guests personally. It is like having the general manager of the Hilton hotel personally bring you your coffee, now that is service, now that is hospitality.
As it turns out these three men did not need the food, they were in fact Angels of God who had come to inform Abraham that he and Sarah would finally have a son, someone to carry on his legacy, to this very day.
So we, his sons, must learn from this story and carry on his legacy.
We learn how to treat guests but there are also business lessons here.
Over deliver - Promise little but do a great deal. How often do we pay for a service only to be disappointed? How often do we pay for a product and feel cheated? Whatever you promise - Deliver more! This is in all the new business books but we don't need them. It was written thousands of years ago, sadly we overlook the lessons from The Book.
Wow Effect - When the product arrives it should be such a great experience that the customer goes WOW. When you open your package there are some extra little gifts that you did not pay for. When you arrive at your hotel room you take a look and say WOW. When you expect the purchased item to arrive in 6-8 weeks but it arrives overnight delivery, that is WOW. When you offer a little water, a morsel of bread and a chance to lean against a tree but then offer a banquet personally served by the one and only Father Abraham, WOW effect.
Use that in business and you will retain your customers. Disappoint them and they will go elsewhere.
Speed - No matter what business you are in customers appreciate quick service. If you receive an e mail, answer it! promptly. So often students tell me, "I heard about your seminar, I wrote the host many times but never received a reply, sorry I missed the seminar." And then these hosts wonder why they are "unlucky" and can't attract participants.
Pay in full on time - Later on we read about the death of Sarah, wife of Abraham. The grieving Abraham wants to provide a proper burial and enters into negotiations with Efron the son of Sohar among the people of Het. They offer him the burial for free but Abraham insists on paying the FULL PRICE;
"And Abraham measured out and weighed to Efron the silver money as he had spoken in the ears of the people of Het four hundred pieces of silver Shekel of a current measure known among the merchants." (Genesis chapter 23, verse 16).
Pay your suppliers on time, in full, without delay. Treat your customers as valued personal guests. Keep your word and in fact Over deliver. I think you will see the results.
Visit our other site
Learn about the life of Father Abraham, the first Krav Maga instructor, Biblical fighting history, the true origin of Krav Maga.
(cover by Arie Katz)