Ethics

For the week ending 3 July 2010 / 20 Tammuz 5770

A Gift For The Hostess

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I am a student at a seminary far away from home and often eat Shabbat meals at the homes of generous hostesses. Is it expected of me to bring a gift as an expression of my gratitude? What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Our experience in inviting guests like yourself and the experience of other such hosts has taught us that families which invite you for a Shabbat meal do so out of a desire to fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim hospitality and to enjoy your company. They certainly do not expect a gift but will not be offended if you bring one.

One word of caution. It is forbidden by halacha to give a gift on Shabbat itself. So either bring the gift before Shabbat or make sure it is a food item like wine or goodies that you can enjoy together with your hosts at the meal.

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