I just finished reading a wonderful book to my three-year-old son. “Much, Much Better” (by Chaim Kosofsky) was sent to us from Leslie and Abigail Wexner as part of the PJ Library in Columbus, Ohio. The book is based on a fable where Elijah the Prophet is the guest at a couple’s Shabbat table (disguised as a poor beggar) and offers them a blessing.
Weekly, the couple invites a stranger without a meal to eat to be their Sabbath guest. One Friday evening, Shlomo and Miriam were distraught because they didn’t have any guests with whom to share their meal. In the middle of the story my son asked me why the couple didn’t just go from house to house looking for a guest to invite. I explained that they were hoping to invite someone who didn’t have a home because that person certainly would not be able to prepare their own meal. He innocently asked me, “Well, do people without a home have a shul (synagogue) to go to?”
It would be equally as beautiful a question if a Christian three-year-old child asked his father if homeless people have a church to go to… or if a Muslim child asked if homeless people have a mosque… or a Buddhist child asked if homeless people have a temple.
I immediately thought of the many houses of worship that double as soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The couple in the story (Shlomo and Miriam) receive the wonderful blessing of a baby after opening their home to this “stranger.” Think of how many blessings synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples would receive if they all opened their doors to feed the homeless.