This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama
The mitzvah of hachnasas orchim is a wonderful recipe for bringing people together and Shabbos is usually a good time to practice one's skill in sharing his home with his local community of Jews. You could bring over a new arrival. Perhaps someone moved in next door. They may feel daunted by their unfamiliar surroundings. Seize the opportunity. The Torah especially commends taking care of, in the form of a meal and smile, the widows and orphans and converts of your little town.
Hachnasas orchim isn't just about inviting over and feeding the downtrodden, though. One could invite anyone over: a friend, relatives, or your next door neighbor.
There's also a way to do Hachnasa orchim. It's like baking a cake: the more one practices the more refined the taste. I remember visiting families that had me over for a Friday night meal. Homes where the woman of the house hugs me the second I cross the threshold of her front door, and doesn't wait to plunk down a plate of cookies and a steaming pot of tea? That is a hostess who knows how to make her guest feel at home.
In last week's parsha, we saw how Avraham sat outside his tent, sweating and in pain under the beating sun. He spotted three travelers kicking up dust in the distance and was by their side within seconds. What can I get you? How can I serve you? He bowed so low his face almost met the earth. Avraham, this paradigm of gimilas chasadim (ga-mee-las cha-su-dim) – loving kindness, went out of his way to make people feel, not only welcome, but like he'd been waiting his whole life for them to come eat at his table.
I'd like to add, Lalin Anik & Co. made a business study at Harvard on "Feeling good about giving." One of the conclusions drawn was that giving, gemilas chasadim, is directly correlated with happiness. However, Harvard doesn't get the last word on these matters. Our holy Patriarch was the paradigm of giving. The above story is just one example given in the Torah outside of hundreds of other deeds of kindness he meted out to his fellow man.
Our holy rabbis recommended, "Open wide the doors of your home and let the poor be members of your household" Ethics of our Fathers 1:5.