I have been invited over to a Chabad rabbi's home for a Friday night Shabbat meal. Is it proper for me to bring flowers, a bottle of wine, or some other sort of gift? I really don't want to turn up empty handed...


How thoughtful of you!

It is indeed nice to bring a gift. Since kosher wine is tricky (see Wine and Grape Products), I would advise you to stick to other ideas — flowers make for a great gift! Other ideas: kosher non-dairy chocolate; a present for the children; a decorative dish, bowl, or vase; or anything you know they may need!

Bear in mind that carrying in the public domain is forbidden on Shabbat (click here for more on this topic). It is therefore common to bring gifts before nightfall and then return later for the meal (or better yet, come right before sunset and just stick around until the meal). I know this may feel funny if you are not used to it but it is perfectly acceptable in religious circles. 1

Enjoy the meal!

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner