“Let Your House Be Open”

Image: Many tents, some large and open on all sides. (SanDraP/Pixabay)

Our sages put a very high value on the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, [hospitality.] They looked to Abraham as a model for this, Abraham who loved to welcome guests to his home:

Let your house be open; let the poor be members of your household. Let a person’s house be open to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west, even as Abraham’s house was, for Abraham made four doors to his house, that the poor might not be troubled to go round the house, but that each would find they faced a door as they approached . . .

– Avot de Rabbi Natan 7:17a

I think about Abraham’s tent, and I have to wonder: how did they keep warm? Wasn’t it awfully windy? What about privacy? If the midrash is to be believed, all those things were nothing beside his great concern that his home be open to all who passed by.

I think about the things that would worry me: security for one. Live in an open tent with doors on all sides? Who might get in? What if we got cold? How do you keep the animals out? How do you keep the children in? How do you manage your fears?

Still, Abraham’s tent flaps in the breeze, challenging me. How can I be more like him and Sarah? How can I open my tent even wider?

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

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