Thursday, November 16, 2006
Ushpizin.

It is said that to have guests is to have the Shechina (G-dly presence) in your home. Why do we merit the Shechina simply by having guests? Because having guests is not simple! That's why - when done properly - G-d fills the home.

Who is our role model? Avraham! His tent was open on all 4 sides, so guests could come from every direction. He fed them, loved them, talked to them about G-d. He even had guests right after his bris (when he was 99 years old). That's serious business.

Having guests is a mitzvah - hachnossas orchim. And when doing this mitzvah, you strive to do your very best. I like to do little things, like buy them nice shower gel and shampoo. I have fun rolling up towels and washcloths for them on their neatly made beds. I like to leave them little gifties; a pair of earrings, a book, a toy. And that's what I'll do in January: a family is coming for 2 weeks to stay with us. We know them (but not really), we're friendly (but not really). I'm nervous (really).

When I broached the guest-idea to Yaakov, he waved his hands dismissively. "It's such a big mitzvah, don't worry - everything will work out." But I am worried. For one, They have 2 small kids, so there's real insanity potential there with my gang. Two, they have this crazy diet with all kinds of specifications (their nutritionist eats buffalo meat. Does that tell you anything?). Feeding guests always takes some fancy footwork (you don't want to give them fishsticks, the old stand-by). But special restrictions on top of that? Plus, they're traveling while they're here. So they might come, go, and then come back again. A little hectic.

I know the wife, she's awesome. I'm looking forward to getting to know her more. Nonetheless, I'm daunted. It's a big deal to host a family. It's expensive, it's nutty, it's crowded. You really have to be on your best behavior (no farting outside your bedroom).

Not only is this big January trip coming up, but my dad wants to come in February. And so does Canada-friend. So we really have a lot of chances to be like Avraham.

I hope G-d doesn't ask us to sacrifice any of our kids.


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