The two hugged as old friends.
‘It seems centuries have passed by since we last met ’, I. responded as he entered into W.’s home.
‘I see you have been working hard. Everything inside seems quite new’.
‘Yes, indeed. Since the last time you came here, we have renovated. We’ve widened our windows and our perspectives. We have taken down walls so that our guests should always feel comfortable’.
‘It’s really an inviting environment’ said I. ‘It seems like a successful investigation into an appropriate color scheme was done. I’m noticing almost all of them here’.
‘Yes, you are right’, W. responded, satisfied. ‘My wish is to make everyone that enters here feel as comfortable as if he was in his own home.’
‘Listen W.”, I. whispered a little. Pausing, he cleared his throat and continued, ‘there are a few, ehm, troubles at home. Could you host me for a while? I only dare asking you because I heard all the things you mentioned before about hospitality…’
W. smiled. ‘For sure, my dear friend, I will be so pleased to help you. Come with me and I will show you your room’.
I. arrived the next day swamped with suitcases and boxes.
Seeing the big amount of packages, W. felt a little worried.
‘I beg your pardon, but can I ask you how long you are going to stay?’
‘I don’t have a rough idea. I have to wait until things settle down at home,’ answered I.
W. did not say anything. He felt as if any word would clash with his hospitable principles.
While W. was thinking, I. began unpacking his things and placing them in the room.
He put the suitcase on the old side board, which once belonged to a grandma, a side board that survived so many movings and wars. The suitcase scratched it all up in a few moments.
‘I’m so sorry!’said I., ‘but I guess it can be repaired, can’t it?’
W. did not react. ‘It does not matter, anyway it was old’, he said while suddenly remembering all the efforts that were done in order to keep it whole until that very day.
I. emptied all the drawers and threw everything on the floor.
‘I’m sure you have somebody who comes over to the house and cleans for you, don’t you?’
W. was a little bit shocked. ‘Yes, I do have somebody who comes over for a few hours a week’ he said. But he thought it would not be worthy to wait. He would have cleaned it on his own.
Days went by and soon became weeks. Weeks went by and became months.
‘Listen W. that picture, the one with your grandmother, you know, the one that is in my room. It bothers me a little. Would you mind putting it in a place far from my sight?’
W. removed the picture and brought it to his room, thinking it would have been nice to fall asleep with his grandma watching over him.
‘W., I am sorry to bother you. But have you noticed the way in which your wife leaves your home? I mean, she’s hardly covered. She should be more modest. I hope you understand I am saying all this only for your good.’
W. blushed from shame. ‘Of course I. Perhaps you could suggest to me how you think she should be dressed’
‘I was just waiting for you to ask me!’
Since that day W.’s wife, an inveterated feminist who shouted with all her strengths in order to get more rights for women, had to get through I.’s exam before leaving her home.
One night W. closed himself inside his room. He was worried. This was not the result he expected from offering hospitality to a friend.
His wife looked him in his eyes.
‘We cannot withdraw our offer. We told him that he should feel like he is in his own home.’
Suddenly strange noises started coming from the dining room. Very loud music, strong smells, pervaded all the house.
‘What’s going on?’
‘I invited a few friends. We are having a party. You told me I should feel like home. Or maybe I am wrong?’ the last sentence was pronounced slowly, you could read in his eyes he felt almost like the master.
W.’s guilty feelings rose up a few seconds after.
‘Sure, sure, you can go on’ said W. to his guest, while seeing that all the pictures of the dining room were removed, the table turned and many of the ornaments simply disappeared.
‘I feel less and less home’ W. dared to think, breaking, for a few seconds, the values in which he had been raised. He immediately felt ashamed and ran towards the kitchen to wash the huge amount of dishes used by his guest’s guests.
The day after he woke up and went to the dining room. Window shutters were still closed though it was almost midday.
He approached the window and started opening them. He loved day light.
‘Please, W., what are you doing there? Leave the shutters closed. There is nothing interesting to see there outside.’
That night W.’s children came back home. They tried to eat something in the kitchen but it was packed of I.’s guests. So they walked to their room and turned on the music very loudly.
After a few minutes somebody started knocking fiercely on their door. It was I.
‘Turn off that hellish machine immediately!’ he shouted trying to open the door. W.’s son pushed back against the door with all his body.
His daughter picked up her mobile and called the father.
‘Where are you?’ asked W. ‘I thought you were already home.’
‘Yes, we are. We are in our room, could you please come?’
While W. was trying to understand why his children phoned him from one room to the another of his, as he still hoped, home, he noticed that somebody was trying to open the door of his own room.
I. entered without asking permission.
‘I., this is my bedroom, if you don’t mind,’ said W. with a very soft voice.
‘I know. And so? What belongs to you belongs to me now,’ answered I. throwing himself onto W.’s bed.
W. left his room and directed himself to his children’s. He knocked on the door, but only after stating who he was, they open the door.
He did not have the courage to look at his children straight in their eyes.
‘Father, there is only one thing we would like to tell you. We did not say anything when you took I. in for you taught us the duty of hosting people, especially those in need. But I. does not feel like a guest anymore! He feels like he is the master here. We are not allowed to listen to our music or to dress as we wish. He removed our grandparents’ pictures, along with all the memories of our childhood. In the kitchen cupboards you can find only the food he likes.
Father, we have but one question. I. is going against all the rules you have been teaching us for years, and if we break those rules, you get angry, you shout and scream, you punish us. Why when I. goes against the same rules you don’t react in the same way with him?’
It took a few seconds to W. to understand.
That when he opened his house to I. he made but one mistake.
And now it was too late.
‘When I told him he could stay, I felt sorry for him. I tried my best to make him feel home, to offer him everything he needed. I just forgot one thing. The rules. I did not mention them, I wanted my hospitality to be at its best.’
When the Jewish nation entered into the land of Israel, they arrived there for one goal. To bring civilization and justice in a place where, before the Jews arrived, parents were sacrificing their children to their gods, there was not an institution as family and people could steal and kill whoever they liked.
Therefore, 3300 years ago the Jewish nation instituted seven laws in the countries where they had arrived.
- Acknowledge that there is only one G‑d who is Infinite and Supreme above all things. The thought that there is always Somebody above us, helps morality spread throughout the world.
- Do not go against G-d with bad words or, even worse, curses.
- Do not kill or harm your fellow. Respect human life.
- Respect the institution of marriage. Do not commit adultery.
- Respect the rights and property of others. Do not steal nor take whatever does not belong to you, be it money, time or objects.
- Respect nature. Do not harm any creature. Do not eat the meat of an animal or of a fish while it is still alive.
- Build a whole justice system. And make all you efforts to maintain justice on earth.
Seven rules. No one more.
A few days ago the heart of Europe and continental democracies was hit. Every victim of terror attacks, be them in Europe, India, Turkey or Israel, is a step back from our civilization.
It would suffice to teach and require the respect of these seven rules, called the Noachide laws, to those who knock on Western doors.
Otherwise our hosting and kindness will become the coffin of our values and freedom.
Gheula Canarutto Nemni