Welcoming guests is greater than receiving the Divine presence
This statement follows a Mishnah which determines that one is allowed to move heavy objects on Shabbat for two reasons: Because of guests, and to make room for people to study. One opinion ascertains that receiving guests must be a greater mitzvah than accomodating scholars. How do we know this? The prooftext that is brougt is the Biblical passage where Abraham leaves a visitation from God to greet three strangers. Listen to the Maharal on this passage:
Rising early to study Torah is the way we honor Torah, but when you welcome a guest it is tantamount to honoring God Himself. For when one brings a guest into his home and honors him because he was created in the image of God, then it is considered as if he is honoring the Divine presence Herself which is greater than honoring the Torah, and that is why the statement "Beloved are humans for they are created in the image of God" is mentioned first and only then mentions Israel and the Torah.So eloquently and succinctly rendered and hundreds of years before Buber's I and Thou. The Maharal has more to say, and it is worth the effort. Click here.