“I never intended to fly on a Friday afternoon,” Benjy stated quite firmly,” but this was different. We had a very important meeting at the end of a full and busy week’s conference in Arkansas. My local colleagues assured me that I would be able to leave early in plenty of time to catch my flight.

“I checked the previous 22 flights from that airline, on that path, and every single one had landed on time. I had four hours from landing until Shabbat candle-lighting time, and the airport was only 20 minutes at most from home.”

Benjy is a senior campus recruiter for Walmart. He travels to the top business colleges in the country, hiring their graduate MBA students for internships and other positions.

On a week that would culminate with Shabbat followed by two days of chag (holidays), Benjy attended a special meeting for the shareholders. He was there to help welcome the 900 interns, many of whom he had personally recruited. Walmart had always been an excellent employer and made sure that Benjy’s observance of Judaism never put him at a disadvantage. They told him to ship in good-quality kosher meals for himself for the duration of the conference, and he also made sure to order meals for any other Jewish attendees.

They also hired him a car so that he could leave the meeting the minute it was over to catch his flight so he could get home before Shabbat and the chag.

And indeed, he made the flight out of Arkansas with no problem and started to relax. The trouble began as he tried to catch his connecting flight in Colorado. The passengers waited to board the flight … and waited … and waited. The usual excuses were quick in being offered; mechanical problems, weather issues, etc.

But then, Benjy overheard two airline employees talking to each other. It appeared that the pilot was nowhere to be found. Eventually, he was told that the flight wouldn’t be leaving until 8 p.m., definitely too late to make it home before Shabbat.

Benjy froze for a second and then started thinking. He could check into a hotel, but he would be pretty much be stuck there for the duration of the three days. He scoured the shops nearby and bought anything that was kosher and edible, and then went into a bookshop to buy some reading material to while away the many free, friendless and family-less hours he would be spending alone in his room.

He called his wife and explained to her what had happened and then tried explaining to a 3-year-old why Daddy’s not coming home. His boss had told him to spend whatever it took to get home in time, but there are some things that money just can’t buy—being stuck because of Shabbat is one of them.

Then, as a last resort, he sent a message to his WhatsApp group of community leaders, asking if anyone knew someone to contact or a kosher shop to order-in food in Denver so close to Shabbat.

Five people replied within 60 seconds with the same name and phone number. None of them knew the man personally, but they knew that he lived in Denver, was active in bikur cholim (visiting sick people in the hospital) and very involved with acts of kindness. He called the man, explained what had happened and asked if he could give him the name of a shop or restaurant where he could still get food.

The man gave him his own address and instructed him to come straight over and spend Shabbat and the holiday with him and his family.

Here were two total strangers who didn’t even have a friend in common; one was inviting the other to spend several days in his home, and the other trusted him, as though he was a close relative.

“My room was ready when I arrived, and they greeted me with Diet Coke and kugel; I knew I was home,” said Benjy.

This is the beauty of the Jewish dictum of kol Yisrael areivim ze lazeh—“All Jews are responsible for one another.” We take care of each other, especially when one of us is in a difficult situation, as Benjy was.

When Benjy went to shul with his host, he was not just welcomed but fought over as the congregants all vied to invite him to be their guest for one of the many meals over the next three days. Hachnasat orchim, Jewish hospitality in caring for guests, especially strangers, is a trait that we have inherited from Abraham and kept up ever since.

Benjy was accepted by the Denver Jewish community like a long-lost friend, and they begged him to return another time with his family. In fact, in the course of the usual Jewish geography game, he discovered that his host and hostess were both brought up in Los Angeles, and that their parents live not far from Benjy’s current home there, so hopefully, he will be able to return their hospitality when they next visit their parents.

For the journey home, Benjy’s hostess packed him a few pieces of cheesecake, which nearly cost him his flight. At the Denver airport, Benjy was pulled aside to open up his bags. Evidently, cheesecake can show up on the X-ray machine as an explosive because of its density.

Who would have known …

But after that long, unusual, wonderful weekend—where he had experienced Jewish hospitality at its best—”dangerous” cheesecake didn’t faze him.