Shabbos Hosting and Guesting – Simple, But Not Always So Simple

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5 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Great article?! I would add that the host and hostess as a matter of Shalom bayis should determine how often they wish to have guests as opposed to just having a quiet Shabbos just with the family. I would also add that I have heard from very informed sources in the Heights that there are wonderful Machnisei Orchim in that neighborhood who just don’t have talmidim for meals but also many who would not otherwise have a Shabbos meal elsewhere.

  2. Mycroft says:


    you make two excellent points, the potential tradeoffs in shalom Bayis, and the pluses of hosting people who really have no one to go to. Both IMO should be considered more.

  3. Raymond says:

    I have been fortunate enough to be a guest in many religious Jewish homes on both Shabbat as well as the Yom Tovim for many years now.  I have both positive and less-than-positive things to say about these experiences.  On the positive side, let me first say that when I am enjoying myself in any one of these given homes, that it really is the highlight of my entire year.  I so much look forward to it, that I dwell on it even months before the major holidays roll around.  Thank G-d for such Jewish holidays, as it gives me something to look forward to, keeping my life from getting too drab and, as a single man, too sad and too lonely.

    So what is it that makes these experiences so enjoyable for me?  Well, first of all, just the fact that these families are willing to have me be one of their guests at all.  It continues to amaze me how they open up their homes to me, letting me eat their invariably delicious, abundant food, giving me a glimpse into their otherwise private family life, letting me be a part of it all.  The very best of those homes are the ones where they make me feel so welcome, so special, that I feel as if I am a part of their family.  And the ones who are especially outstanding hosts, know how to bring out the best in me.  I could come to those homes feeling down about myself and my life, and yet by the time I leave their homes typically a couple of hours later, I feel like I am flying as high as a kite.  I have to say that as much as I love to read Torah books, that nothing quite encourages me to be a part of my Jewish people, as do these positive experiences as a guest in these religious Jewish homes.

    So far, so good, right?  Unfortunately, there is also the downside.  There have been a small minority of homes, where they seem determined to make me feel bad about myself.  I believe it was King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, who remarked how “There is no man so righteous that he never sins,” and yet these people treat the admittedly irreligious me as if I am some kind of pariah.  One ongoing sense of frustration I feel at many of these homes, is that they seem to not be interested in finding out who I am at all, other than insisting  on finding out the exact street address of my home.  I am not sure why the answer to this question so fascinates them, although I suspect that what they are really trying to find out is whether or not I am really religious, and if i am not, then they feel they have the perfect excuse to not have me over to their home ever again.  Putting aside the issues involved in travelling on Shabbat, it seems to me that far worse than that, is to embarrass one’s fellow Jew in public, which is exactly what they are doing when they ask me that same question over and over again.  Three such families used to have me over their home so often, that I felt as if I were part of their families.  Then they stopped inviting me cold turkey, and every time they see me since then, they ignore me, as if I do not exist.  Perhaps they seek to push me away from ever fully living a religious Jewish life.  Maybe they even see me as not being authentically Jewish at all, which would be pretty ironic given that I am a descendant from my mother’s side of the Holy Ba’al Shem Tov.

    I will stop here in saying anything more that is of a negative nature, because I do not want to create the misleading impression that most of my experiences as a Shabbat/Yom Tov guest have been negative ones.  Like i said, for the most part, my experiences in this regard have been absolutely wonderful.


  4. Nancy says:

    This article made me nostalgic and made me appreciate my wonderful friends even more.  Shout out to Steve Brizel.  Please send my regards to Linda. 😀

  5. miriam says:

    I have some more ideas to add:

    For hosts: if a guest asks a host to come over for a Shabbos meal, give him/her the courtesy of a prompt reply so if the answer is no, the would-be guest has the chance to make alternate arrangement. Running out the clock, where a host doesn’t inform the guest whether he/she could come by a certain point, the guest has to treat the no reply as a no anyway.

    Have grape juice available for kiddish so a guest who can’t drink alcohol is not embarrassed. Also have extra lechem mishne on hand for late guests.

    If you’re a frequent host but don’t want to have a particular guest over, don’t lie and say you’ll have that guest over eventually bc that guest will likely see you in shul taking other guests home week after week and will see through your charade eventually.

    When possible, try to invite guests in advance so they know not to prepare their own meal.

    Make sure before inviting guests, you consult with your roommates or spouses so you don’t overextend yourselves. It’s awful to have to rescind an invitation Thursday night bc your spouse invited other guests without your knowledge.

    While emergencies can come up that require you to cancel guests, please tread carefully. Otherwise, your guest may be left scrambling last minute. This is especially true if your guest works full time and lives in a place with limited takeout options.


    For guests: arrive on time or tell the host if you’ll be late so they can start without you.


    Even if you can’t reciprocate by having your hosts over for a meal, consider taking them out to dinner, a ballgame, etc.

    For both: If you’re a guest allergic to or afraid of pets, let the potential hosts know to see if you can be accommodated. Hosts should be honest about their willingness or unwillingness to put pets away for the duration of a meal and if they know a pet wary person is coming, ask that other guests not bring their pets.



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