Guest of Honor

We were sitting down for a Shabbos Lunch when suddenly there was a knock on the door.  A young couple, the daughter of my husband’s friend who just got married and her new husband were standing outside, with a rather unsightly older large, obviously very poor man.  Although he was heavy, he didn’t look like he had seen a shower, a meal or most important a drink of water in a while.

“We are sorry to disturb your lunch,” the new groom spoke, “but do you mind if you could give our friend here a drink?”

As everyone shifted seats, making sure the ‘guest of honor’ was given a space I ran to give him a tall glass of cold water.  His face was quite red and beads of sweat had fallen throughout his shirt, besides the tears that were running down his face.  My husband found an extra dish and fork and placed it in front of him. The groom ladled out the potatoes and a piece of chicken and some peas and filled the plate while asking my husband through a silent request for permission, which of course my husband nodded with pleasure.

At first, the poor man couldn’t help himself, but devoured the food as fast as he could after he drank the water. It didn’t seem he would ever feel satiated. Meanwhile, I stepped aside and asked the newlywed wife what the story was.

“We also just had eaten and were walking over to my in-laws, when we saw him outside just sitting on the bench.  But he didn’t look good.  My husband (she said blushing, still getting used to the new title) insisted that we need to intervene and find him something at least to drink.  But neither of us lives around here, so I didn’t know what we were going to do.  Then I remember you lived here, and I told my husband that I was sure it would not be any problem to bring him to your house.”

“I am so glad you thought of us,” I reassured her. “It is really hot outside; he could have had a heat stroke.   I think you saved his life.”

“Not us, you did, with your warm hospitality.” she insisted.

It took at least a quarter of an hour before the man was able to stop stuffing the food in his mouth.  His hunger had been a long time coming.  And then he started crying and begging forgiveness for coming in and disturbing us.  We tried to assure him, that not only he didn’t bother us, but we were thrilled to have him come and take part in our meal. Then he took out his private book of Psalms from his pocket and started to read and give blessings to everyone in the room.

I had no idea what and where he was going to go next.  But soon the young couple told him that it was time for them to go and he should come with them, they were sure they would find a place for him to spend the day. I can’t say I wasn’t relieved to see them finally go; I really didn’t want to spend my afternoon off that we had with the family with the elderly man.  Yet I was pleased our family was ‘chosen’ to be part of such a kindness project.  I thought over what a special young couple the two of them were, the sensitivity they showed the homeless man even going out of their own comfort zone to stop at our door. I had a feeling those blessing he bestowed on all of us would have special power on the new couple.


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