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Printed from HarfordChabad.org

How do you treat your guests?

Thursday, 17 October, 2013 - 8:21 am

 How do you treat your guests?

There is a story told about the birth of the Baal ShemTov, the founder of the Chassidic movement. Reb Yisroel, more commonly known as the Baal Shem Tov, was born on 18 Elul, 1698, in Okop, a tiny village in Poldolia, Ukraine. His parents, Reb Eliezer and Sara, were known far and wide for their generous hospitality. They would send people to search the countryside for beggars who were in need of a place to stay. Then they would bring them to their home and serve them a delicious meal. Before the guests left, they made sure to provide them with provisions and money that would last for several days.

Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) was once sent to their home to test their sincerity. Late one Shabbos afternoon, Eliyahu banged on their door, demanding a meal and a place to spend the night. He had a staff in his hand and a knapsack on his back-clear indications that he had been desecrating the Shabbos.

Reb Eliezer himself opened the door. "Gut Shabbos," he warmly greeted his guest. "Welcome to my home." Although Reb Eliezer understood that the beggar had violated Shabbos, he pretended not to notice and quickly invited him inside.

"We're in the middle of eating shalosh seudos (the third Shabbos meal)," Reb Eliezer told his guest. "Please, come and join us."

The moment Shabbos was over, Sara prepared an elaborate meal for the guest and then provided him with a comfortable bed. The next morning, Reb Eliezer and his wife prepared to send the beggar off with a generous donation, as well as provisions for the way. Not once did they mention a word about their guest's lack of Shabbos observance the previous day.

Just as he was walking out the door, Eliyahu Hanavi revealed to Reb Eliezer his true identity. "Since you did not shame me when I came to your house," Eliyahu told him, "you and your wife will soon be blessed with a son who will illuminate the world with the depths of his Torah."

The following year, Reb Eliezer's wife gave birth to a son. Eventually he grew up to become the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic Movement.

A message that we can learn from this is that not only is it important to host guests, it is important to make sure they feel welcome and that they know they are wanted. The way Maimonides puts it – escorting your guests on the way out is more important than welcoming them on the way in.

When a guest is fed and taken care of but is given a cold “send off” the whole experience seems like they were a burden.

Next time you host an event, keep this in mind.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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