Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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Having Guests on the Holidays

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The Gemora tells us that during the Temple days there was no joy like the joy of eating the meat of the sacrifices and drinking wine on the holidays.[i] Then what can we do to have that holiday joy now, when we do not have a Temple and the sacrifices?

The Rambam explains that today, the joy of feeding others on the holidays takes the place of the joy of eating the sacrifices when the Temple was standing.[ii] Today our dining tables replace the Temple altar.[iii] One of the sacrifices we offer today is the gifts of food that we give to our guests. Just as we ate our sacrifices with family and guests back then, so, too, do we eat our holiday food with family and guests today. When we see this is so, the normal joy that comes from sharing food on the holiday is increased tremendously. That normal joyous meal now becomes a holy sacrifice, and the additional joy comes not just from sharing food, but from realizing that this sharing is actually today’s substitute for the sacrifices that were offered on the altar.

Jewish people have certain physical and spiritual characteristics in common. These come with our genes. One of these is that we love to have guests in our homes. You would be hard-pressed to find a Jew who did not truly like to have guests. Not all people in the world are like this. We inherited this trait from our forefather Abraham. His principal occupation was teaching his generation about G-d. He did this by opening his tent to travelers and feeding them.

[i] Gemora Pesachim 109a
[ii] Hilcos Yom Tov 6:17-18
[iii] Gemora Berachos 55a

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