Vayeira 5774 – Being A Proper Guest

And he said, “my masters, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass from your servant.” (Bereshis 18:3)

In this week’s parsha we learn how to properly perform Hachanas Orchim (hosting guests). Just as a person needs to be careful in this mitzvah, a person also needs to be careful when he is a guest in another’s home.

I once had a guest visit my house and let’s just say it was not the nicest Shabbos. First, this person (who I will call Dovid) told me that he would be arriving on Thursday and wanted to stay until Motzi Shabbos at my house. “Not a problem,” I thought. Then he told me that his plane arrives at 10:30pm which means it would not arrive at my house until after 11pm. I was usually asleep by that time, but I decided I would sleep on the couch near the front door that night (of course, it was not as comfortable as my bed).

Since Dovid got in so late the night before (his plane was delayed and he arrived later than 11pm), he took a nap on Friday morning, which was fine with me because I was working at home. Then, as I was getting off work (around 2pm), he decided he was going to go out for a drive. He didn’t get back until a few minutes before I was leaving for shul. He was still getting ready for Shabbos when my wife finally told him that she needed to light Shabbos candles (I was already at shul by this time). I understand he wanted to drive around Miami but he was starting to ruin our Shabbos.

Before Shabbos, Dovid told us that he eats a lot of food and we should make sure to prepare a large amount for him. He also had numerous allergies and asked if we could prepare the food in a special way. Now, my children had lots of allergies and my wife and I had no problem carefully preparing foods so he could eat them. And since he said he was a big eater, we had no problem preparing lots of food for him. But on Friday night, right after HaMotzi, he walked over to the couch and slept the rest of the meal. He did not eat anything that we prepared for him.

We asked him if he wanted us to wake him up for shul and he said he would wake up on his own. Well, he slept until after 10am. Then, when he realized that he missed shul, he got angry at my wife for not waking him up.

He also ate very little during lunch, even though, again, we prepared lots of food for him.

There were many other things that really annoyed my wife and I about Dovid, but I’ll only state one final thing. Numerous times over Shabbos, Dovid went out for a stroll around the neighborhood. When he returned, he just opened the front door and let himself in. How rude! This was not his house. He didn’t knock. He never asked us if he could just enter. He walked around like he owned the place.

This guest was a terror, but it did teach me a lesson. A host has a mitzvah to do Hachanas Orchim and to make guests feel welcome. But a guest cannot force his host to go over and above. A guest must also behave properly.

But let’s take this one step further. We are all guests in Hashem’s world. Therefore, let us all behave properly to the ultimate Host and act kindly while we are in His house (aka, this universe).

Good Shabbos!
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