57 - Welcoming Guests Part 3

Included in the discussion of the mitzva of hachnosas orchim, it is important to note that the guest himself has a number of responsibilities in his relationship toward the host.

We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.


Last week’s stretch of the week was:  Remember to accompany a guest and make sure he knows the way when he leaves your house.

Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.

Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #57


PART 3 - Responsibility of the Guest


Included in the discussion of the mitzva of hachnosas orchim, it is important to note that the guest himself has a number of responsibilities in his relationship toward the host. 

A guest should be alert to the situation of his hosts and should make sure not to eat a meal with people who do not have food to spare.  If the guest does not give thought to the matter, he might not even realize his error; he may assume that he has permission to eat anything.  The stress experienced by a host who is ashamed that he does not have enough food to offer a his guest can be so intense that, at times, it can be life-endangering.  A guest should not show up at the end of a meal for the same reason, since the host may be greatly ashamed if he does not have any food left over to offer guests.  

It is not proper for a guest to invite another guest into his host's home. 

A person should never walk suddenly into his friend's home, or even his own home, without first knocking to inform those inside of his arrival to avoid causing embarrassment to anyone who might be engaged in private matters.

Generally a guest should not take food that was put in front of him and offer it to the host's children without asking permission, in case there will not be enough to go around later.  

Once a person becomes a guest in someone's home a relationship of a type of indebtedness is created.  If he stayed at one person's home when he came to a certain town, he should remain loyal to his hosts and return there each time he visits so that people should not surmise that the hosts and/or guests are difficult or hard to get along with.  

A good guest appreciates every detail of the host's work, should express his thanks to his host and inquire after his well-being regularly.  If the guest speaks at a gathering in his host's home, he should preface his words with praise of his host.  The guest may express his gratitude by leaving small gifts for the members of the household at the conclusion of his visit.

(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)

Story(based on a true story)

When I was twenty years old, I had recently become frum.  After some time learning in Israel, I traveled to America, where I had no family at all.  I had arranged an apartment with several other frum girls in a frum community, and I got a job there as well.  As sometimes happens, the apartment situation did not work out, and I was stuck in a small town with a work commitment, but no place to live.  A casual friend, Sara, from my year in Israel happened to come from this town, so I called her for advice.  Sara was staying in Israel for another year, but she sent me to her parents. Sara's parents invited me to stay in Sara's room until I straightened out the situation.  My stay grew from a few days to a few weeks, through the months I was dating, while I was engaged, until the morning of my wedding.  

No expression of hakaras hatov could be enough for what was done for me.  I was treated like a daughter of the house.  I am even in the family Chanuka party pictures.  I was never allowed to pay rent, pay for meals or buy groceries, although I sometimes babysat for the younger children and helped with Shabbos preparation.  The father rescued me when I had a flat tire, and the mother took me to prepare for all aspects of my wedding.  

We made Aliya soon after we got married.  As the years progressed, we enjoyed being able to host many yeshiva boys or seminary girls for Shabbosos including the younger children in my host family as they, each in turn, spent their year(s) in Israel.  

We knew it was not a coincidence when Yehuda, one of the host family's children, now a young man, decided to make Aliya, and needed a place to stay and we were able to provide that for him.  "Hudy's room" was the term our own kids used for "guest room".  Even today, when B"H, the guest room is used for our own growing family, it's still called "Hudy's room".  We are grateful for the hashgacha that has allowed us to practice this mitzva of which I was once the beneficiary.

Discussion Question Options:

How should we behave if our host is offering us something we do not want to eat or drink?

How do we respond if someone invites us, but we feel it may be an imposition, financially or otherwise?

What expectations do we have of our guests in making the visit go smoothly?

Stretch of the Week:

If you are a guest in someone's home, be sure to express your gratitude.


Stretch Of The Week