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  • Family and Society
  • General Questions on Education

Young Guests


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

13 Tammuz 5764
I wonder if the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim applies to children the same way as to adults. For example, I would not consider denying an adult guest a helping of food or encourage him/her to leave early. However many of the friends our kids bring home try my patience with their Chutzpah. On the one hand I try to tell my kids that X is our guest and it’s a Mitzvah to treat him/her in such and such a way. But on the other hand I wonder if we have a quasi-parental role in teaching other kids how to behave. I sincerely would like other parents not to indulge my children nor tolerate Chutzpah. On the other hand I don’t want to embarrass my neighbors by telling them about some of their kids’ behaviors (Lashon Hara?). Any advice?
The issue is not Hachnasat Orchim par excellence, which refers to feeding and hosting those who do not have where to eat and sleep - Thank G-d nowadays this is a rear condition. Nonetheless it is an important Mitzvah of Chessed. To the point, by ignoring bad behavior of your young guests you are not doing good service to them. Kids should know when they are wrong and should be told off. It's called education. One should be careful not to embarrass or hurt a child's feeling, but putting him in place is a good deed. It obviously has to do with their age and you relationship with them. All the best
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