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Welcoming Guests

Another instance of how we are to learn from the Patriarchs, is the incident of Abraham and the angels. He taught us how to perform the Mitzva of הכנסת אורחים, welcoming guests.

This is listed in the Mishna in Peah, of things that one reaps benefits in this world, but the real reward is in the next world. The character trait that was most pronounced by Avraham Avinu, was his Chessed, or kindness.

We see from the narrative of the Torah, that although he was 99 years old, and recovering from his circumcision, he went all out for his mysterious guests. We are told that he slaughtered three goats, so that each visitor could enjoy his own tongue of the goat. This was considered quite a delicacy.

The atmosphere and energy of a home, is very much determined by how guests are treated. We are to go out of our way to be sure that they feel welcome and comfortable. It is not always convenient when we have guests in our home. But we must always treat them well.

It is important to have nice quarters for our guests, with proper beds and fittings.

It can definitely be challenging when our guests may not be courteous, or overstay their welcome. Just as there are rules for the host, there is also an expected behavior of the guests themselves. They should be neat, courteous, and considerate. But most of all, they should be appreciative.

Acts of kindness go both way. Hachnasat Orchim is not one of the easier Mitzvot to fulfill. The point to remember is that we are children of our father, Abraham, and we should act in a way that would represent him well, and make him proud.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.