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The Red Cord of Redemption

You are not to oppress a foreigner, for you know how a foreigner feels, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9). If a foreigner stays with you in your land, do not do him wrong. Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native born among you—you are to love him as yourself. (Leviticus 19:33). As the sky begins to darken on Friday nights, Jewish people throughout the world look forward to sharing Shabbat dinner, and engaging in lively conversation with their families and friends. Jewish sages describe the word “hospitality” as a form of worship. As far back as Abraham’s day, when the three travelers were given food and shelter (Genesis 18), we clearly see the act of welcoming the stranger, or hachnasat orchim.This type of graciousness is a major component of gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness), and is considered a sacred obligation. The Mishnah supports this. “Let your house be opened wide and let the poor be members of your household” (Pirkei Avot 1:5).

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