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Inviting over on Shabbat


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Tishrei 16, 5769
I have a small problem and I have not been able to find a direct halaka ruling. Almost everybody in the community that I live in says I am wrong and they are right. Some background: I’m single, live 3 miles from shul, and I do go to minyim everyday, 3 times a day and I’m a member of the shul so everybody has my phone number. The problem is almost everybody in the shul only wants to ask my to their home on Friday night at shul or Shabbos morning at shul. I say that this is really insulting and demeaning. For one thing I have said it is a statement that everybody thinks I’m not really keeping Shabbos and when I get home I’ll start cooking my Shabbos meal. Also the people of the shul have said I should call if I want a meal. I have said I have food in my home and I will not make myself into a beggar, B"H, I do not need someone to give me food. About 3 months ago at their shul board meeting the President made an announcement that the shul was going to make a better effort to make sure all members have a hot meal for Shabbos. Also they put this statement in the weekly newsletter. After one month I was not asked by one family. I stop going to that shul. It has now been 2 months and still not one member has called and asked me over for Shabbos. Although the President and Rabbi have called me to ask me to come to Minyim. Do you have anything in Halaka that will explain what peoples responsibility is in inviting someone over to their home as far as when it should be done? thanks
In regards to human behavior and human relations there are generally no clear halachot. The Rabbis teach us that "Derech Eretz kadma l'Torah", which is usually taken to mean that understanding of - and the development of proper - human behavior is a prerequisite for Torah learning and living. The general rule is that in question of human relations, before blaming the other person(s) one should analize one's own behavior and motivations before trying to determine the correctness of the other. In looking at your question, I find it plausable that a person might invite a Shabbos guest in the hope that this would prevent him from going home and cooking a meal, or with the notion that the guest cannot afford a hot meal, but not if it is a great number of people doing it over and over. It sounds more like the community was attempting to be friendly and welcome you into their homes. It is not unusual in today's society for singles to feel that they are able to develop a home life that has a degree of independence. Many people do not appreciate the sensitivity that singles have to that indeendence. But generally, people mean well and mean what they say. My feeling in reading your letter is that you have read to much into the invitations you have received. It is also my feeling that certain members of the congregation may not have been sensitive to your situation. That doesn't sound like a reason to leave the shul, but I don't have enough information to know. I suggest that you speak about this matter with the Rabbi of the congregation if you are interested in remaining a member. I also suggest that you consider some counselling (rabbinic or otherwise) to go over the situation and to see where you may be misreading some people's motivations, or being overly sensitive about your situation.
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