Friday, February 22, 2013

“I’m interested in coming for Shabbat.”

It was after eleven at night when I heard the male voice on the telephone. I had been sleeping and was not very friendly, to say the least.
“Call back in the morning.” I snapped, hung up the phone, forgot about the call, and went back to sleep.
Twelve hours later the phone rang again. I was not thrilled to hear the same voice.
“My friend and I want to come to Shilo for Shabbat.”
Over the years we have hosted a number of overseas yeshiva students in our home. We found most of them to be wonderful guests and urged them to send their friends. Apparently someone had sent this guy.
 “You want to come this Shabbat?”
“I’m sorry, but we don’t have any room this Shabbat.” (We had married children and grandkids coming.)
“But I tried to call earlier twice.” He sounded downright indignant.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated. What I wanted to say was forgive me sleeping. “Would you like to come another Shabbat?”
“Maybe, tell me what is your kosher supervision?”
“Well. uh,” I stuttered. I mean I’m not a restaurant. I told him what kind of meat we used and where I bought my groceries. I was used to guests’ questions about the bus schedule not my kashrut.
“Okay.” I guess he liked the brands I bought. “What synagogues to you have there?”
I really tried to answer that and all the other annoying questions he asked patiently. For some reason he liked my answers.
“Are you sure you don’t have room this Shabbat?” He sounded like a whiny kid.
“I’m sure,” I answered firmly. I did not think I would ever want to have room for this guy.
“What about next week?”
“Call me on Wednesday,” I answered wearily.
“Can’t I just make reservations now?”
“I don’t think so.” I was all ready to hang up but he had one more question, one that consisted of eight words.
“How much do you charge for a Shabbat?”
Those eight words changed him from being an obnoxious nudnik to a responsible consumer. I explained to him that we were neither a hotel nor a youth hostel. I never heard from him again, but we have had many other guests. We found almost all of them to be pleasant, interesting additions to our Shabbat table. Two of my favorite guests came many years ago for Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat that proceeds Purim.
That year Purim fell out as this year with Megillah reading right after Shabbat. Our guests were from a Jerusalem yeshiva though, and they would not be celebrating Purim until Shushan Purim which would begin Sunday night. They were happy to watch our sleeping baby while I went to the first Megillah reading. I was really pleased that I would not need to wait for the second Megillah reading. I was even more pleased when I came home and found that our two guests had washed each and every dirty dish that had been in the kitchen. 
HaShem did a tremendous kindness by saving the Jewish people from Haman in Shushan so many years ago. There is no better way to pay Him back than by doing our own acts of kindness to His children. Those boys could not have done anything kinder for me than washing all those dishes. I think of them often and hope that the acts of kindness I try to do are as appreciated as their thoughtfulness was so many years ago.
A happy Purim to all!

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