The Talmud, Megillah 26a, three lines from the bottom, writes:

אָמַר אַבָּיֵי: שְׁמַע מִינַּהּ אוֹרַח אַרְעָא לְמִישְׁבַּק אִינָשׁ גּוּלְפָּא וּמַשְׁכָּא בְּאוּשְׁפִּיזֵיהּ.

This means:

Regarding inns, Abaye said: It is proper etiquette for a person to leave his wine flask, and the hide of the animal that he slaughtered, at the inn where he stayed — as a gift for the service he received.

Is that the Jewish law today? Is it brought down in Jewish law? And, if it’s not brought down, is there a reason why not?

  • 2
    When was the last time you slaughtered a cow and took it to your host?
    – Dov
    Aug 28 at 6:53
  • 1
    That was the custom at the time. The literal is "the way of the world is to ..." which was translated as "it is proper etiquette." If nobody today does nor expects this, then it's not "the way of the world."
    – Shalom
    Aug 28 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


The term "innkeeper" is slightly incorrect here because that implies people are paying for the service whereas the Gemora is discussing the oppisite, Yerushlayim, when the Beis HaMikdush was standing where it was forbidden to accept rent from pilgrims. Not even for the beds slept on. Therefore in order that unpaying guests don't end up as total freeloaders, they gave the hides of animals they sacrificed and other such items to their hosts.

The Gemorah isn't saying it as a strict halachic obligation but rather as the correct mode of practice.

The general concept of not being a freeloader (guest) certainly is brought down in Jewish law and thought . The Gemorah (Chulin 44B) says that Rav Elazor would not accept gifts or meal invitations because he was not interested in accepting free largesse. Rav Zeira would not accept gifts but would accept meal invitations because of the assumption the person inviting him was doing for his own benefit (he wasn't looking for the invitation) Based on that Gemora the Rambam (Zechiyah uMattanah 12:17) and the mechaber (Chosen Mishpat 249:5) both say the righteous practice is not to accept anything given as a free present.

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