Hospitality, what do we think of when we read or hear this word? Perhaps we think of the multi-billion dollar industry that includes everything from resteraunts to hotels to amusement parks. Perhaps we think of kind neighbors who always welcome you in with a cold glass of Tea in the summer. Perhaps we remember the wramth and comfort that came with visting loved ones homes in the winter. Hospitality is all of these things and it is a very important part of the life of a Torah keeper.
In Hebrew we see a term used hakhnasat oreḥim (literally meaning "bringing in of guests"). Hospitality is considered a great mitzvah, an expression of gemilut ḥasadim or ("kindness"), especially when it was extended to the poor. We have a lot of examples of this in the Torah and writings. In Bereshit 18 we have the story of Abraham and his Hospitality at the tree of Mamre. It was through Abraham’s hospitality that he was able to serve Adonai and some of his Angels. Abraham made them comfortable and provide them food. It was at this event that Abraham and Sarah are given a blessing of the child Issac.
In the same pattern in Bereshit 24 Rebbecca shows Abraham’s servant Hospitality by bringing water to his camels. Later her brother also shows him Hospitality. Through this act Rebbecca becomes one of the mothers of the Jewish people and is wife to Issac.
Hospitality is some times not just a shelter from the elements or sustenance to eat. Some times it is in the form of protection and relief.
We can see this with Rehab the Harlott and the 2 spies in the story of Jericho in . In the book of we read, 31if anyone in my household has ever said,
‘Who has not been filled with his meat?’
32—but no stranger had to spend
the night outside
for my door was open to the traveler—
Job’s claim is that he was innocent of wrong doing in part because of his hospitality.
We can go on. Some of the civil wars of Israel where fought over the lack of hospitality shown.
At this time of year it is very appropriate to consider the act of Hospitality as we approach the Passover. encourages us to be hospitable with this sacred meal.
48But if an outsider dwells with you, who would keep the Passover for Adonai, all his males must be circumcised. Then let him draw near and keep it. He will be like one who is native to the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat from it. 49The same Torah applies to the native as well as the outsider who dwells among you.”
Above all of these examples and encouragement we have this very real commandment about being hospitable.
34The outsider dwelling among you shall be to you as the native-born among you. You shall love him as yourself—for you dwelled as outsiders in the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God.
Is there a better expression of hospitality than to love the outsider or stranger as yourself? What would you do for yourself do for them as well.
When we look at Hospitality in Greek we get the word philoxenos