Ki Teitsei: The real reason we love to give food
Transcript: We must always remember the Ammonites and the Moabites.
Why? Who were they? What’s this all about?
In Parshat Ki Teitsei, the Torah tells us how when the Israelites were moving towards the promised land, they came to the territories of the Ammonites and the Moabites. However, the Torah says (Devarim 23:5),
“Al d’var asher lo kidmu etchem balechem uvamayim,” – these two nations “did not come out to greet us and to offer us bread to eat and water to drink.”
Because of their inhospitable nature, the Torah says that they should be remembered always and should never be allowed to enter into the assembly of God.
Now, we can well imagine that a nation that had been travelling for a long time desperately needed something to eat and to drink. However in the Midrash, we are told that Rabbi Shimon in the name of Rab Eliezer posed a great question:
At that time the Israelites were blessed. They were receiving manna from heaven, and water was coming miraculously out of a rock for them every day, so they really didn’t need anything to eat or drink!
Nonetheless, we remember how inhospitable the Moabites and the Ammonites were!
Therefore, Rav Shimon taught that if the Moabites and Ammonites should be remembered for all time for being inhospitable towards people who didn’t really need food or drink, how much more so is it a great mitzvah for us to show hospitality to those who really need it?
I believe this is so relevant to us right now. As, Thank God, we are gradually moving towards the post-Covid Era, for me, one of the most exciting elements of some regulations being removed is the opportunity we now have once again for hachnasat orchim, to bring people into our homes, to have them around our tables, to offer them food and drink.
It’s something which perhaps we took for granted in previous times and which we should never take for granted again – the beautiful opportunity to share what we have with others. And from Parshat Ki Teitsei, we learn that hachnasat orchim, hospitality, is not just giving food and drink to people, because perhaps they have enough in their homes. Actually it’s a mitzvah which goes well beyond that by forging a close connection between people and between families, something which enhances our lives.
Baruch Hashem we now have this opportunity – so let’s never be like the Ammonites and the Moabites.
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