Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Hachnasat Orchim," Welcoming Guests

Considering the beautiful story on the Arutz 7 site, it's time to tell you my story for the Playback improv group. 

Arutz 7 wrote about the results of a car accident just north of Jerusalem Friday afternoon.  It held up traffic so seriously that many people didn't make it to their destinations before Shabbat.  They had to abandon their cars and hike a few miles to the nearest Jewish community, which was Adam.  Some, who were probably on their way to Psagot and Kochav Yaakov (much further) walked all the way there.  In Adam, residents quickly mobilized to arrange beds and Shabbat meals for their unexpected guests, and the security forces contacted the security forces in all the communities people didn't arrive in to let everyone know that their family and/or guests were perfectly safe and fine.

The story I told for playback was from our very first months in Shiloh.  It happened during Succot, either Shabbat or a Holiday Eve when we were eating the festive meal in our succah.  My in-laws were visiting.  They came to meet their new infant grandson and see our new home.  We had just moved to Shiloh about a month earlier.  To put it mildly, they weren't very impressed by the rough, unfinished (even primitive) living conditions.  Electricity was from an unreliable generator, water was trucked in, streets were recently bull-dozed and still unpaved.

There were no nearby Jewish communities, and the Arab villages were extremely small and even less modernized than Shiloh.  None of this bothered us.

In the middle of the meal, people approached the succah.  It was a neighbor with some strangers, yes, real strangers.  The strangers were Swiss tourist hikers who wanted to see Shiloh.  They had taken an Arab bus which let them off in some village and then judged from their maps and compass that Shiloh must be where there was a bit of light.  They trudged through to dry wilderness and up the mountain until they arrived at my neighbors' succah.  They had trouble communicating in their school English, learned in Switzerland and Israel, so the neighbors decided that we would certainly understand each other much better.  In they came to the succah, and we invited them to eat and camp out.

My in-laws found it horrifying, but for us it was just another lesson on life in a yishuv.


yoni said...

great story. i don't know why your inlaws found it "horrifying" that you put up a few swedish adventurers for the night, tho.

Anonymous said...

Hashem seems to have a tendency to love and protect what all others despise. :)

Batya said...

Yoni, they weren't raised with the sort of hachnsat orchim we enjoy.
a, yes, you can say that