Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
There is a tradition of hospitality for the Feast of Tabernacles. The idea is to entertain a distinguished guest each night of the Festival. These guests include in order: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses Aaron, King David and Messiah. Of course, the patriarchs do not actually physically come in the sukkah, but their presence is invited through reading, talking and learning about them.
Hospitality was a fundamental virtue to workings of M.E. society in the days of the patriarch Abraham. When a guest was in your house, he was under your wings and protection. If an enemy came to hurt him, you were to use all your resources to protect your visitor; no matter what the cost, your company could find total sanctuary in your house.. A very good example of that is found in the story of Lot even offering his daughters to the sodomites in order to protect his angelic guests.
In traditional writings, Abraham is the gold standard for hospitality. To be invited to the table and tent of Abraham was a great honor. He would treat you to the best of his flock, as if you were a high dignitary. Tradition describes that the patriarch would send his servant Eliezer to the highways and byways (and we are talking great distances in the desert) to compel people to honor him by finding restoration and rest in his tent. Again, in M.E. tradition, guests didn’t just stay for a cup of coffee and cookies to quickly be on their way. They got their feet washed, maybe stayed several days at the host’s expense while they, their host and their animals were tended to. Aside from Melchizedek, Abraham seemed to have been one of the rare persons acquainted with the God who made Heaven and earth. This act of hospitality from Abraham was his outreach program in the midst of an idolatrous world. He would invite people and treat them like God would. Abraham wanted to show people God’s favor!
Come to think of it, as we invite Abraham to our sukkah for this first day of tabernacles, we also have all been invited to his table. The tent of Abraham represents God’s favor and an invitation to come to the Messiah, his descendant. Abraham was God’s representative and prophet, and through him, all the families of the earth are blessed (Genesis 28:14). The whole world is blessed as they come to the table of Abraham to have a foretaste of the World to Come. That is why in the synagogues of Paul’s day, those of the gentiles who joined themselves to the God Israel were called ‘those of the family of Abraham’ (Acts 13:26).
May those that meet us on our daily path, may those who get to know us as the Children and representatives of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth also find in us, and through us, the bounty, beauty, and restoration Messiah would give them. May all those who come in touch with us get a foretaste, however small, of the World to Come, of what God has prepared for them. Like with Abraham, may this be our witness, our sharing of His favor and Light in this sad and dark world.