Kenneth Cohen

Welcoming Guests

Avraham Avinu is associated with the Mitzva of הכנסת אורחים, welcoming guests. This is connected with his treatment of the three angels who came to visit.
The Talmud explains that this Mitzva is greater than welcoming the Divine Presence. Avraham was in the middle of a conversation with G-d, and asked to be excused so that he could take care of his guests.

The Rambam points out that welcoming guests is not one of the 613 Mitzvot by itself, but is included in the Mitzva of ואהבת לרעך כמוך, love your neighbor like yourself. The Rambam connects this to ואהבת לרעך, because we are to treat others the way we would like to be treated. And this certainly applies to welcoming guests.
A final point made by the Rambam is that in order to properly fulfill this Mitzva, we must make a point to escort our guests, when they leave our home. This is called לווי, or “Livuy.” We should walk with them for at least four cubits, or six feet, past our front door.

As Jews, we are commanded to do גמילות חסדים, acts of kindness. And welcoming guests, הכנסת אורחים, falls under this category of Mitzvot.

We are seeing this openly during the last few weeks, when Israelis have opened their homes to the refugees of the war. The Jewish people are, indeed, very special!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at