Learning to Welcome Guests

Hospitality is a skill that we can develop in our children. The holiday of Sukkot provides us an opportunity to do just that. This Sukkot (and all year), teach your children the mitzvah called hachnasat orchim, which teaches us to honour our guests.

Hachnasat Orchim and SukkotHONOURING GUESTS

In her acclaimed book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, psychologist Wendy Mogel points out that the Torah puts “great emphasis on the importance of welcoming people into your home.” She writes:

According to the teachings of the Talmud, we are required to: Greet guests at the door and escort them inside.

Make an offer to remain cheerful during the visit.

Ask our guests questions about their interests and activities.

Escort them to the door when they leave.
 

CHILDREN & HACHNASAT ORCHIM

According to Mogel, the mitzvah hachnasat orchim can be taught to children beginning at an early age, even to those who “aren't yet able to master each rule each time.”

Mogel suggests that play dates provide good opportunities to work on their hosting skills. “When the play date arrives, your four-year-old does not have the luxury of staying in her room playing with Duplo,” Mogel writes in one example, “but must come to the door to greet her friend.”

With permission from the author, the Jewish parenting website Kveller.com has posted a full excerpt of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee that relates directly to hachnasat orchim:

Read Wendy Mogel’s Excerpt on Kveller.com

GOOD PLACES TO START

The value of welcoming guests first appears in the Torah with the story of Abraham and Sarah welcoming visitors into their tent. For a good introduction to this story, consider Shalom Sesame’s animated version of it.

As Shalom Sesame writes on its website, “Teaching your children to be good hosts starts at a young age.” Sharing drinks, snacks, and toys is a great way for children to learn.

A number of PJ Library books also provide good introductions to the mitzvah, hachnasat orchim. A good place to start might be our list of Sukkot-related PJ books.

Review All Sukkot-Related PJ Library Books