Jewish Hospitality

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When everyone is so busy it is hard to make time to invite someone for a meal or any other activity. Also it can be a bit intimidating to allow someone else into your home in the name of hospitality but Abraham gave us an example of it.

“The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.

'My lord,’ he said, ‘if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.’ ‘All right,’ they said. ‘Do as you have said.’ So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, ‘Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.’ Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.” Genesis 18:1-9

Abraham, one of the greatest figures in Jewish history, is presented before us as waiting on others as a servant and bowing before them. Sometimes the reason we are hesitant to invite people over is because we don’t think our home or food is great enough for others, when humility is not concerned about impressing but loving and giving our best. If we understood that we might not be so nervous about how well our homes may meet the expectations of others.

When we open our homes to someone we are welcoming them into our inner circle and making them a part of our way of life. It can be difficult at first but the more we allow others to make themselves at home in our home the easier it is to let go of selfish tendencies and become less defensive about our stuff. While there are some cases where it would be acceptable to invite someone else out to eat at a restaurant or something our home provides a more authentic representation of ourselves because we are surrounded by our own interests which makes the home a mirror of our hearts which could make for some good conversation starters. So if you are nervous about what you should talk about you can ask if your guests have any interests you share.

But don’t worry too much about how much someone value your efforts. Abraham ran to serve others and we should rush to do so to without trying to gain honor for ourselves. However, I am not saying to abandon common sense in this dangerous world. Notice that Abraham was the one who was most forward when it came to showing hospitality to other men and served them directly. When they asked “’Where is Sarah, your wife?’ the visitors asked. ‘She’s inside the tent,’ Abraham replied.” Genesis 18:9. Sarah also showed kindness in preparing things for the strangers however, it is better for men to deeply befriend men while women deeply befriend and welcome women.

Even when married and both the husband and wife are present it is best to be polite yet maintain a modest reserve with members of the opposite sex even while serving them to avoid misunderstandings. If you have been lacking a hospitality you can use the example of Abraham and Sarah to inspire you to help more. Give the best that you have to others and be kind as well as wise. You can be nice without needlessly risking your life. If you have been perhaps less than discerning with your interaction with members of the opposite sex you could also use this example to show how you can be polite in serving them while still maintaining a modest deportment to avoid casting a questionable influence by risking others mistaking your intentions. If you are not sure what to do still pray and ask God to give your opportunities and wisdom to know how to serve others better.

Picture originally found here

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