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Hospitality is valued very highly in Judaism, witness Abraham [Gen. 18:1-5], Lot [Gen. 19:1-8], Laban [Gen. 24:28–32], Manoah [Judges 13:15-16] or the unhappy matter of the concubine of Gibeah [Judges 19:23–24].

The Talmud says that there are six matters for which a person enjoys the profits in this world, while the principal remains for him for the World-to-Come, and hospitality is the first one listed [Shabbat 127a].

But hospitality has limits: (1) God did not look kindly on Lot offering his daughters to protect his guests [Midrash Tanhuma, Vayera 12]; (2) priorities must be set clearly (story of woman offering what little bread she had to comfort a stranger during a siege when there wasn't enough for her own family [Lam. R. 4:13]; and (3) possible strain on the family if the wife or children are not as eager as the husband to welcome guests [Bava Metzia 87a, Ber. 10b].

But I could not find anything in the Sources about the biggest deterrent of all to hospitality: Security. It could be very dangerous to welcome in your house a stranger who may turn against you. Is there anything in halacha about this? (I an sure I don't need to dwell on the current relevance of this issue.)

Added: The other article concludes: "If a loss or any damage will result from hosting a particular guest one would not be obligated to host him [Orech Maisharim 17-2]." That is not an answer to my question. You don't know beforehand whether you will suffer a loss or not. I am bothered by the fact that I did not find even a simple "just be careful" in the Sources.

  • 1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but hospitality is not on the list of the Mitzvos. G-d didn't say "open your house to strangers". 2. Another deterrent would be poverty - spending too much on hospitality. 3. Security is a very ill-defined term, and in many cases it overrides many real Mitzvos (Pikuach Nefesh?). – Al Berko Nov 17 '19 at 0:12
  • I am bothered by the fact that I did not find even a simple "just be careful" in the Sources. – Maurice Mizrahi Nov 17 '19 at 0:23
  • @doubleAA -- "If a loss or any damage will result from hosting a particular guest one would not be obligated to host him [Orech Maisharim 17-2]." That is not an answer to my question. You don't know beforehand whether it will or won't. – Maurice Mizrahi Nov 17 '19 at 0:25
  • My Google-fu seems to be a bit off now (or I don't remeber the wording exactly) but there is a phrase that goes something like "Kabdeihu Vechashdeihu", which means that while you honor someone, you still need to be suspect (as needed). Is used in context to having a guest. – Salmononius2 Nov 17 '19 at 0:30
  • It appears that you can add this phrase to just any Mitzvah - "just be careful" when building a Succah, "just be careful" when lightning Shabbos candles, "just be careful" when fasting for 25 hours, "just be careful" when marrying someone you don't really know, etc. – Al Berko Nov 17 '19 at 0:33

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