Ethics in Everyday Life Situations

Hospitality - Visitor Behaviour - Care of Animals




Hospitality

Situation

On Chol Hamoed, our class visited the Rabbi. We enjoyed our visit, where we heard discussions on interesting Torah issues. When we left the Rabbi's house, one thing amazed us: Why did the Rabbi have to prepare seats for us? And why did he himself have to serve us candy?

Is it that...

  1. A revered Rabbi need not bother with hospitality?
  2. A revered Rabbi is also obligated in the Mitzvah of hospitality?
  3. A revered Rabbi is only obligated in the Mitzvah of hospitality to other Rabbis?

Sources

Popular Halacha - IV, Ch.15, Hospitality towards Guests, Proper Table Manners

  • 1. Hachnasat Orchim - hospitality towards guests is one of the most important Mitzvot. When a guest comes to a person's home, he should be offered a chair, food and drink, and any other needs he may require.

    Regardless of the host's own status, he should personally attend to his guest's needs.

    Abraham, our ancestor, exemplified this quality. He and Sarah would themselves care for their guests even if they were complete strangers to them, people who very well might have been (and often were) idol- worshippers.

  • 3. A guest should similarly show deference to his host: He should not visit him at dinnertime lest the host not have enough food to offer him. Even if the guest is not hungry, it is improper to for him to visit someone while he is eating, since eating a meal in the presence of others who are not taking part in the meal constitutes a very uncomfortable situation.
  • 4. A person who inadvertently visits a colleague while he is eating should wish him an enjoyable and healthful meal and come back another time.

    It is proper for an unexpected guest to decline an invitation to join in the meal lest the host not have enough food to provide for his own family... (lest) out of politeness and embarrassment he be invited to join the meal. (One can either) excuse oneself and to come again another time, or ... wait in an adjoining room.

  • 8. If a number of people eat together, it is proper to honor the most distinguished guest by serving him first. Similarly, the honored guest should be allowed to break bread first by pronouncing the blessing of HaMotzi (Berachot 47a).




Visitor Behaviour

Situation

I enjoy visiting friends and relatives with my parents. During our last visit, however, something very unpleasant happened.

We were visiting with friends who served us many good things to eat. "Take as much as you like," said the hostess, "I prepared this all for you."

I took her advice, and helped myself to generous portions of everything offered. My father got very angry at me, and I could not see why.

Is it...

  1. Permitted for a guest to eat as much as he likes of everything offered?
  2. Permitted to eat whatever is offered, but to accept politely and to limit quantities?
  3. That all the above are true?

Sources

Popular Halacha - IV, Ch.15, Hospitality towards Guests, Proper Table Manners

  • 2. We must neither eat nor drink voraciously, nor while standing, and our table should be immaculate and nicely covered, though we may have but common fare.
  • 5. A person invited to a dinner party should not bring his children with him.

    If a person takes his children along to visit a friend, he should train them not to eat from any food offered without his permission. Even if the host insists that they eat, they should refuse, for he may be offering the food to them as a gesture of politeness, when in fact it was intended for other adult guests. By no means should children be allowed to eat large portions.

    Similarly, the guest himself should not give the host's children from the food served him lest, again, it has been intended for others (Chullin 94a).

  • 6. A host should not insist that his guests eat if he knows that they will refuse. The Torah prohibits false pretences of this nature (ibid).




Care of Animals

Situation

I returned home from Shul with my father after morning services. My mother asked us to come and eat breakfast.
"I can't eat until I've fed the dog," said my father.
"But then your food will be cold," answered my mother, "Please sit and eat first, and then feed the dog."
"No," replied my father, "I have to feed the dog first."

Is it that...

  1. A man is obligated to feed an animal before he eats?
  2. A man is not obligated to feed an animal before he eats?
  3. A man is obligated to feed an animal first only if the animal is very hungry?

Sources

Code of Jewish Law - IV, Chapter 42 - Laws Concerning Meals

  • 1. If we possess cattle or poultry that we must feed, we are forbidden to partake of any food before we provide them with food, as it is written (Deuteronomy 11:15):
    "And I will give grass in thy field for thy cattle that thou mayest eat and be full."
    Thus has the Torah given precedence to man's feeding the beast over man's feeding himself.
    Yet as regards drinking, the man takes precedence, for it is written (Genesis 24:46):
    "Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also";
    and the idea is reiterated in Numbers 20:8:
    "So shalt thou give the congregation and the cattle drink."
  • 9. A person who engages in animal husbandry should provide his beasts and fowl with food prior to serving himself. Berachot 40a derives this law from Deuteronomy 11:15, which states, "I will provide grass in your fields for your beasts,"
    and only follows with, "And you shall eat and be satisfied."
    Regarding drinking, the order is reversed in Numbers 20:11: "And he provided drink for the congregation and for their beasts. "
  • 10. Food that is unfit for human consumption should be left outside for animals rather than be discarded. Food should be treated with respect as it is a gift from God (see Sofrim 3:14).


 

 

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08 Jun 2005 / 1 Sivan 5765 0