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Special Blessing for the Hosts


We were invited to a family we know via work for a Friday night Shabbat meal and want to know what would be an appropriate gift. Any advice? answered:

The traditional gift is one of food (usually a dessert) or drink. It is not only an expression of your appreciation for their kindness, but is something practical that they can serve as part of the meal. This “sharing of giving”, even if mostly in a symbolic manner, often helps evoke special feelings of closeness between the parties involved.

However, there is another “gift” that guests can give that in my opinion is more valuable. And it may be even more highly valued by the hosts than the gift of food or drink.

This is the “blessing for the hosts”, a brief prayer that is found towards the end of the “Birkat Hamazon” blessing that is said after the meal. I would suggest that one or all of the guests say it aloud for the hosts to hear and then all present can answer “amen”. Aside from the various expressions of “thank you” that the guests express during the evening, this beautiful blessing is actually a prayer that God bless the hosts for their hospitality, and asks the Merciful One to show only kindness and good to the hosts and their family.

I can personally testify about the profound effect of this “small” act, based on a recent Shabbat my wife and I spent with a hosting family in the States. The family keeps kosher but does not normally observe Shabbat. However, they told us that is we came to visit them for Shabbat they would observe it as well as they could (at least that week). We went and had a lovely Friday night meals with them and then I said — in English — “the blessing of the hosts” out loud at the end of the meal. After we concluded, the hosts approached me and told that they were “blown away”. It was not surprising that we would offer our personal words of appreciation. But the fact that our appreciation was formalized into a beautifully thoughtful and meaningful blessing for them in this special “blessing the hosts” was extremely touching.

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