The Talmud tells us that hosting wayfarers is a mitzvah for which a person is rewarded in this world and in the World to Come.1 Why is this relatively simple mitzvah (which is not even listed in the Torah as an obligation) given such a prominent place in Judaism? Does it not pale in comparison to, say, charity?

As challenging as charity is, hachnasat orchim (inviting people to stay at your home) is even harder. If money is personal, our home is hyper-personal.

Allowing someone to enter your space, your sanctuary, the place that you call home, is quite an ask. Giving them the opportunity to be privy to your secrets as they open the closets in your home and discover a skeleton or two (I always thought that he had no temper . . . Can you believe how messy the bedroom area is . . . The kids are not so well-behaved after all . . .) can be gut-wrenchingly vulnerable.

What does the Torah say about hospitality? We need look no further than this week’s Parshah.

The portion of Vayeira opens with Abraham lying at the entrance to his tent, which is on the main thoroughfare and has entrances on all sides to attract as many visitors as possible. Abraham is 99 years old, and he’s in great pain, as it is the third day (which we’re told is the most painful day) after his circumcision. G‑d has come over to the tent to perform the mitzvah of visiting the sick, bikur cholim. Imagine that—G‑d visiting Abraham at his sickbed!

Suddenly, Abraham spots three Arab nomads walking through the desert. It’s an unbearably hot day,2 Abraham is in tremendous pain, and he has the most Divine visitor . . . what should he do?

What would we do in this scenario? Look away and make believe as if we didn’t see the hungry travelers? Decide that talking to the Almighty is more important than greeting some pagans who deny His very existence?

Abraham had no such hesitations. He jumped up, ran out into the scorching heat and invited the three nomads (who were angels in disguise) to join him for a feast—never mind that he was in the middle of chatting with G‑d!

Thus, the Talmud concludes, “Welcoming guests is greater than greeting G‑d!”

In Jewish tradition, Abraham is the manifestation of kindness on earth. This story is but one example. Later in the Parshah, we learn that Abraham and Sarah opened a hotel, which they ran free of charge. They loved sharing not only their wealth but their home as well.

Bringing people into our space is one of the greatest forms of kindness. Bringing people into our space can be quite exposing and maybe even embarrassing, but it is one of the greatest forms of kindness and the epitome of sharing our bounty. The founders of monotheism dedicated their lives to this. It must be worth it.

From personal experience, I know that hosting is one of the most rewarding and satisfying mitzvahs we can do. Seeing the smile on people’s faces as they leave your home and hearing their words of gratitude is deeply rewarding. So what are you waiting for? Open your heart and open your home. The blessings are sure to follow.

Read: Jewish Hospitality