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Inviting non religious jews for meals. Why?


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tishrei 8, 5779
I live in a non religious neighborhood. For over 15 years my husband and I have invited non religious members of the community for Shabbos and Yontiff meals. Recently, as seeing that it doesn´t matter what happens in the world, neither of my guests care about spiritual growth and see my family as the "nice religious folks who serve good food" I started to resent cooking for them. Now that the holiday of Sukkot approaches and my husband have informed me that he wants to invite 30 people for the first two days, I don´t feel any happiness about the cooking. I know that as all other years, these guests will come, eat, be satisfied and go home watch tv or do melachot without a care in the world. Even with the help of a cleaning lady, it´s still a lot of work for me to do. Even if my husband wanted to invite 3 instead of 30 people, I would still be thinking "Why am I doing this?", What´s the difference?", What´s the point of tiring myself so much preparing meals for people who do not even bother to try developing their spirituality?", "Why, if they will never be frum?" I see myself as a free restaurant. Any advice?
ב"ה Shalom My heart goes out to for your pain for other Jews , but more so my heart is so warmed by this beautiful custom of hospitality you have been conducting for so many years. There are several issues to be addressed here. First from the practical side. I don't know what you age is today, but you are 15 years older than when you started and age takes its toll. I will not get into husband wife relationships in this forum, but if it is difficult and draining for you physically you have to tell your husband you need help. Maybe, you should buy more ready-made food, maybe you can enlist other family members or other people to assist who want to take part in such a great Mitzvah. I have seen in Chabad- Lubavitch houses abroad that even some of the invitees are more than willing to help. I'm sure if you speak to some of your neighbors and friends you will be offered a few more ideas and helping-hands. I'm sure people will be willing to donate money or products if this is an issue. Now , we have to address the present, past expectations and the future. First the present. Think of a single meal in your home with all your guests. Think of how many people are now eating kosher. Think of how many people, have heard Kiddush, have done Netilat Yadiim, have made a Bracha or two, have answered "Amen" . Maybe some have sat in a Sukka for the first time in their life, are having an authentic Jewish holiday experience.They hear a "Dvar torah". All this and more is in your Zechut, your merit. Yes, it as the cost of lots of preparation and effort, time and money. But the from way it sounds to me, you are doing all this so for the spiritual value. The food you make is an additional plus for them. Now, we can discuss past expectations. Did you expect after having a meal with you , they will Daven and put on Tefillin the next day? I don't think so. You are instilling a love and respect for Judaism into some people who may otherwise never experience it. Coming closer to Torah observance is a process. It is not something we see immediately. Sometimes you kindle a spark and each person then takes it in the directions which it leads them. I work in Kiruv and education, and not always do we have the privilege to know what good things came about in our merit. Somewhere out of the blue, someone may approach and say "Do you remember such and such which you did for me X years ago? Well since then "I have been saying Shema Yisrael' . This once happened to me and it's stories like these that give us the strength to continue. I am sure you people are making a great impression, but you don't see results so quickly. Think also of Chabbad Houses around the world who do exactly what you do. They host so many unaffiliated Jews, without expectation of them becoming Torah observant overnight , but offering love and hospitality to other Jews. And finally, the future. I learned the following from my Rabbi and teacher, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l . The mishna in Pirkei Avot says "Be among the students of Aharon , love peace, pursue peace, love the "briyot"- [which I will translate in this context ,] your Jewish brothers and sisters, and bring them close to Torah. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l pointed out the Mishna does NOT say love you brothers and sisters IN ORDER to bring them close Torah. But it says " Love your Jewish brothers and sisters, AND bring them close to Torah. There are two distinct mitzvoth here. One is showing love to another Jew and one is bringing a Jew close to Torah. So, if you have the physical strength to continue, you should know you are doing a great Mitzva. But you should get yourself some help, since you want to a mitzvah with happiness not as a burden. Gmar Chatima tova and Chag Same'ach
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