Image: Welcome sign (rebeck96/pixabay)
Back in 2013, I wrote a blog post about my desire to become more hospitable:
Excerpts from The Hospitality Challenge: I Dare You!:
…I am in the process of moving into a new home. I’m organizing it with two goals in mind. (1) It needs to be accessible enough that my honey and I can get old in it, and disabled friends can come to visit with dignity. (2) It needs to be set up like the Tent of Abraham, to welcome friends and strangers who will become new friends.
I am a teaching rabbi, and I admit, part of it is that I need to do more of my teaching in an environment that gentler on my own disabilities. But more of it is that I know this works, because it worked on me. Our home will not be a synagogue or a substitute for a synagogue. It will be a Jewish home, hospitably open to other people. We’ll find them at synagogue, we’ll find them in class, we’ll find them when they wander into our lives. And they will be welcome. And then we will teach by example: you can do this. Invite someone over.
Linda and I are both introverts. This is going to require some stretching. That’s why I’m writing about it under the #BlogElul topic “Dare.”
Committing to ongoing hospitality requires daring from my introverted soul. I worry that I’m an awful housekeeper, I’m not a very good cook, I tend to run around barefoot at home, the dogs will misbehave, what will we do if they don’t leave? what will I do if they criticize me? what if what if what if … and it simply doesn’t matter. I’m going to give this mitzvah a go.
Now, five years later, I can tell you that I’ve changed. Linda and I regularly “have folks over” here at Beit Adar/Burnett, even though we are still introverts and my disabilities have continued to progress. We have regular “Pot Luck Dessert Havdalahs” and guests are a constant. I carefully do not think of it as “entertaining” – it’s the mitzvah of hakhnasat orchim, welcoming guests.
I have grown beyond (some of) my self-centered habits and worries. My disabilities have grown, but so has my world.
I brush aside whatever project is sprawled across the dining room table, and they enter. I apologize for whatever mess there is – once– and then I ignore it, because this is not about Better Homes & Gardens: this is a holy place, our Jewish home.
6 thoughts on “We Can Change – Here’s Proof!”
I (also an introvert) never thought of my Jewish home as a sacred place. Thanks for this new perspective.
What a lovely message! I especially appreciate the idea of “apologize once and then move on.” No one really cares; they just want to be with you. Or, if they do, they can decline the next invitation. 🙂
I agree. My husband says that our home has a “lived-in look.” We welcome people from all over the world (we’re Airbnb hosts.)
Thanks, Rabbi Ruth, for cranking out & posting these insightful messages. I so look forward to them. As a nurse, I’m sorry to learn that your mobility is altered. I wish you comfort & peace!
Your home is wonderful! And, it’s because it’s the people that make up the home. Thank you and Linda for such a welcoming and comfortable place to visit.
You’ve made me smile. Thank you!