By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/
Formerly: Director Sinai Heritage Center (Wall Street)
Part of a series devoted to Kiruv Rechokim
There are many paths to follow in Mekareving (bringing close to Judaism) our fellow Jews who know little or nothing about Judaism beyond a few bare ideas. Probably the oldest such “method” dating back to our forefather Avraham Avinu is the Mitzva of Hachnosas Orchim (welcoming guests into our homes). In a prior article the challenges of inviting guests for Shabbos and Yom Tov were discussed and some suggestions made for good days to invite secular Jews to your home that revolved around holy days without being Mechallel Shabbos and Yom Tov.
To deploy and practice Hachnosas Orchim is probably the simplest way to have people participate in a broad range of religious and meaningful events and days, listed below, that are wonderful opportunities for Kiruv Rechokim without any major stresses or complicated issues whatsoever.
Too many Frum people are overwhelmed and frightened to do any Kiruv because they right away think they must jump to the most extreme options like “having” to invite people for Shabbos and Yom Tov or discuss serious Torah topics because that is the way they primarily do it when they want their own family or people they are close with to be with them without distractions of regular weekday work-days. But Hachnosas Orchim for Kiruv does NOT require it all the time. Shabbos and Yom Tov invitations to Jews who are NOT observant are NOT the “required” methods in Kiruv.
As a foundation it is important to remember what the Chumash teaches about how Avraham and Sarah attracted many people to Monotheism and belief in HKB”H in the first place. Many Sukkah decorations that depict the main Midda (attribute) of the seven holy Ushpizin (guests) depict a four-sided tent with its four “walls” open in each direction. The purpose of that is to remind us of Avraham’s Hachnosas Orchim. It is fitting that for the first day of Sukkos, Avraham is the symbolic first “guest” because for all the other nights of Sukkos we so to speak invite a new guest after him: Yitzchok, Yaakov, Moshe, Aron, Yosef, Dovid, quite a long list of Choshuva (important) guests.
All human beings are “guests” in God’s world! We are “welcomed” into the world by our parents who then “host” us until we grow up and leave home and we hopefully enjoy life as God’s guests until he takes us out of the world at the end of our days.
So the foundation of Yiddishkeit and a pillar of all human civilization is welcoming guests, letting total strangers sometimes into our homes and communities. In Parshas VaYeira, Avraham is so anxious for guests that he waits outside his tent for them and HKB”H then sends him three “strangers” who are in fact are God’s Malachim (angels) whom Avraham and Sarah serve selflessly. The height of welcoming guests means giving them “Achilla, Shetiya, Linna” (food, drink, lodgings) and not like the wicked people of Sodom and Gemora who persecuted strangers who entered their evil cities.
Before welcoming guests one must have a sincere welcoming attitude and frame of mind. If you don’t like having guests try something else, like donatingTzedaka to Kiruv Rechokim causes and there are so many worthy organizations and people who can do it that by supporting them you get a share in the Mitzva. But for most people it is a pleasure if they only knew how to go about doing it.
Below is a list of days and times and events that are suitable and fantastic opportunities to welcome co-workers, neighbors and any non-religious Jews who come into your life one way or the other to give them a flavor and experience of true Torah life by inviting them to any or some of these things:
* Lechaims, Vorts, Engagements.
* Weddings, smorgasbord, main meal, Bentching.
* Sheva Brochas during the week.
* Barmitzva meals and parties.
* Birthdays, Chumash parties and graduations of your children.
* Siyumim Seudas Mitzva
* Upsherins and birthday parties.
* Chanukas HaBayis celebrations.
* Se’udas Hoda’ah and Se’udas Pereida and reunions.
* Brissim and Pidyon HaBen events and meals.
* Matza baking and even Pesach shopping, real eye-openers.
* Sukka building and decorating.
* Hachnosas Sefer Torah and writing of Oisiyos.
* Visiting a Sofer and Frum bookstores and seeing all the Seforim and Tashimishei Kedusha and buying something there.
To be continued…