Thursday, January 7, 2010

hachnassat orchim...

In case you aren't familiar with Hebrew - hachnassat orchim is HOSPITALITY, or, "the welcoming of guests", to be totally specific.

In college I was a nanny. Not just any nanny to any family... but to the rabbi of Clarks Summit, PA's kids! At the time I began they had only 4 - Mendel (5) Yosef (4) Avremil (2) and Shua (5 months). From day one of beginning I fell in love. Not only did I love the kids, but I was super intrigued with the Jewish lifestyle. Chana, the mom, and Benni (Rabbi R. I should say) had 4 really fancy bookshelves in their front entry room chocked full of Jewish literature. Some of it looked ancient, and some fairly new. When the kids would nap I was always eager to check out the books... only to find out, they were ALL in Hebrew or yiddish and I was plum out of luck! There were one or two new releases that were readable...but once I got started I realized how over my head they were and I just let it go.

The kids were almost always dressed up. Think Children's Place dress clothes... all the time, playing outside, riding bikes, building towers with blocks...always. The two older boys sported their adorable kippa's -

and the younger two were still under 2 so they did not. However, Avremil had gorgeous brown curls all over! They had the traditional milk and meat sinks on opposite sides of the kitchen - and the meat and milk dishes to boot. The master bedroom showcased two single beds rather then the all American queen or king size bed. Chana, wore a wig and dressed to the nines mostly all the time - except, a few times she wore a head covering while we worked at home. They ran a local chabad, or library/discovery center, in town. I watched them recite the shema (Deut. 6) and other prayers, I helped them prep for shabbat before sundown and many times did the clean up for them, as they weren't allowed. A few times they tried to explain what kosher meant...I always felt a little more confused after ward. Anyway, I loved this family. We couldn't be more different in our faith beliefs - behaviors - and opinions...but, they were still very good at treating this nanny with kindness. Since working for them all those years ago, I've maintained this interest in Jewish life. I often catch myself watching specials on PBS or the History channel if something comes on about the Jewish nation. I think Hebrew and yiddish sound beautiful and mysterious... I even kind of like the idea of all the special prayers, etc. So, when I came across Lauren Winner's book - "Mudhouse Sabbath", written by a lady who has converted from Judaism to Christianity I was hooked to buy it! (yea, I'm that easy)

Lauren has gone through 11 topics ranging from sabbath to prayer to aging and has compared and contrasted the two "religions". I liked that she wasn't "PRO" for either one all the time...which, after reading the book I now agree. Just because we, as Christ followers, have our own way of doing church, doesn't mean we always do it right. And Jewish folk, steeped in great tradition are missing out on some things as well. Obviously to start, still waiting for a messiah, that we Christians worship as Jesus! I won't get into all the points and illustrations but I did want to share my joy over one chapter in specific - the one my blog post is titled after - Hospitality. This topic is on my mind all the time. We bought a house we could be hospitable. We are scrimping and saving pennies so we can finish painting, get some furniture, etc. to welcome folks in! I love having people in my home - cooking for them, caring for them. It's a treat to have our driveway full of new cars and our kitchen table crowded :) However, I still often times feel that wall of, "oh, its just too much work", or, "my house isn't done yet", or "well, they probably won't like what I'm cooking so we'll wait another month." Anyone else?!

In Chapter 4 Lauren had a few quick thoughts on this topic - and I wanted to share them with you, my blogging friends...
* "it [hospitality] is part of what the church is supposed to be: a community of people practicing hospitality."
* "Apostle Paul placed such high value on hospitality that he listed it - along with temperance, sobriety, and gentleness - among the characteristics required of leaders of the church."
* " the invitation that we as Christians extend to one another is not simply an invitation into our homes or to our tables; what we ask of other people is that they enter into our lives."

I finished, Mudhouse Sabbath, lastnight. It was a very quick and interesting read. She has great things and comparision/contrasts that have helped me think through my own spiritual disciplines and my lifestyle. Especially the task/opportunity of showing hospitality. How are you doing with welcoming people into your life?


Amy@My Front Porch said...

That book sounds really good...I might have to borrow that sometime!

The Sneaky Mommy said...

Good stuff! I'm pretty sure I'm the one who needs to be learning from you! ;) Hope little Ava is feeling better too! I was flipping through an old Grandview yearbook today and saw Brad's senior picture w/ his baby picture--whoa, Ava! Thought Ava was all you until I saw that! I think she's got the perfects of both of you!