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The Tabernacle Times
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May 2018 ......................... Iyyar - Sivan 5778 ......................... Volume 13 Issue 5

Hospitality (Hachnasat Orchim)

Angela Kunkel
by
Angela Renee Kunkel

 


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  Rabbinic literature abounds in statements praising the practice of hospitality on behalf of travelers and the destitute. Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming the stranger (ger), is a historical ethical value in Jewish tradition. Leviticus 19:33-34 states, “If an outsider dwells with you in your land, you should do him no wrong. The outsider dwelling among you shall be to you as the native-born among you. You should love him as yourself — for you dwelt as outsiders in the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your G~d.”

There are numerous accounts of “hospitality” in the Bible. When Abraham saw the three men of Mamre he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them. Abraham then brought them to his tent and proceeded to provide for their physical needs. Water was brought to bathe the guests’ feet, a comfortable place to rest under a shade tree, and bread to eat was offered to them. In addition to bread, Abraham ran to his herd and selected an ox from his herd and had his servant prepare it. (Genesis 18:1-8).
  Just before the binding of Isaac, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba. According to the Talmud, the Hebrew word for this tree, eshel (alef, shin, lamed) is an acronym for eating (achilah), drinking (sh’tiyah), and staying overnight (linah). Food, drink, and lodging were essential elements of Abraham’s devotion to the welcoming of the stranger. You might say Abraham established a sort of “hotel” there to serve people passing through. Abraham set the example to the people of Beersheba to practice this virtue of hospitality.

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