Sunday, October 8, 2017

Children of Thy House

This is the kind of dwelling place Joseph and Mary sought when they were on the way to register for the census. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7).

The Latin word for this type of lodging was hospitum, and oshpisa in Aramaic.  Our English words hospital, hostel, hospice and hotel all derive from the religious concept of a place where strangers are welcomed, fed and cared for in an otherwise desolate place. Within the city free lodgings did not need to be built because homes were expected to take in guests. It was customary to hang a curtain in front of the door to indicate that a room was available. 

Jose ben Jochanan of Jerusalem wrote, “Let thy house be wide open, and let the poor be the children of thy house.”  He taught that hospitality more important than religious study, and entertaining visitors has more spiritual significance than the daily offering in the temple or giving alms to the poor.