56 - Welcoming Guests Part 2

The host should do everything possible to make the guest feel comfortable. Following Avraham Avinu's lead, we should provide for the needs of our guests- food, drink, a place to wash, etc.-enthusiastically and quickly.

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:  Invite someone over who needs a meal, a place to sleep, or even just some company.

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

Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #56


PART 2 - Making the Guest Feel Welcome


The host should do everything possible to make the guest feel comfortable.  Following Avraham Avinu's lead, we should provide for the needs of our guests- food, drink, a place to wash, etc.-enthusiastically and quickly.  The host should always serve with a smile, as if he is wealthy and has plenty to spare, and should apologize that he does not have more to offer them.  If they need a place to sleep, he should offer guests the most comfortable beds, even if it means displacing his own family members to lesser accommodations.

Whenever possible, the host should dine with his guests.  When separate rolls or small loaves of bread are not served to each person, the host should make Hamotzi, so he can cut generous slices of the large loaf.

The host should be particularly careful to maintain a positive demeanor at the table, not to lose his temper or be irritable or fussy, since that will make all present feel uncomfortable.  This might discourage family members from inviting guests in the future or may make the guest feel that he is the cause of the host's bad humor.

Women are obligated in this mitzva even toward male guests, within the bounds of Tznius.  

The mitzva of accompanying the guest is even greater than inviting him in, and failing to do so is a serious omission.  The main purpose of the accompaniment is to make sure that the guest understands clearly how to proceed toward his destination.  Therefore the host should either walk along with his guest until the guest is confident of the route or should give him clear directions that he can remember and follow, so that he will not run into trouble finding his way.  In any case, the prevalent minhag now-a-days is for the host to walk his guest to the gate or at least four amos.

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

Story(based on a true story)

My ten year old daughter, Shira, is our only child, so we often encourage her to invite lots of girls over to play.  We have discussed hachnosas orchim with her on many occasions, and over the years she has learned to be an excellent hostess.  

Girls seem to love to come over.  Shira enjoys offering her friends nosh and drinks.  She shares her games, toys and dolls with little prodding.  (She does keep some very special items put away when friends come.)  She lets the guest choose what games to play first, and then they take turns.  She has learned to be m’vater, so if her guests want to play house she will agree to be the baby some of the time.  She has even learned to walk her friend to the car when the mom comes to pick her up.

Most of the time Shira's playdates go very smoothly.  Last week, after Shani went home, I went into Shira's room to put away some laundry.  There was Shira in the middle of a tornado of toys.  It was going to take her an hour putting them all away.  

"Why is the room such a mess?  You know our rule is to put away each toy before the next one is taken out," I asked.

"I didn't think I should make Shani put away the toys.  When I go to her house we  clean up at the end of the playdate and her older sisters help," Shira explained.

I understood her dilemma and I know where she gets it from.  She has seen me stand by silently when guests have brought food into rooms where we don't eat so as to make Pesach cleaning easier.  She has seen me go to a neighbor to borrow wine for Havdala when our lunch guests finished our last bottle.  And she has seen me refuse offers of help to clean the kitchen when guests have offered.

I see that I have to show Shira and myself a more balanced approach to this mitzva.

Discussion Question Options:

How can we balance the need for "house rules" and making our guests feel welcome?

How can we work on anticipating the needs of our guests?

What is the best way to make guests feel that they are welcome in our homes?

Stretch of the Week:

Remember to accompany a guest and make sure he knows the way when he leaves your house.


Stretch Of The Week