By Rabbi Avram Mlotek for Tablet Magazine
His door was unlocked. Two weeks prior, a man took advantage of this basic act of radical kindness when Grafton Thomas burst through Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home in Monsey, N.Y., slashing at people with an 18-inch machete, leaving one man in critical condition.
Some might see Rottenberg’s decision to keep his door open after that vicious assault as naïve or unsafe. Others might view it as an affirmation of the Mishnaic rabbinic dictum: “Let your home be open abundantly.”
Regardless, the rabbi was expecting guests. It was Saturday night and his Hasidim were to join him for a melaveh malkah—a religious feast held after the Sabbath’s departure as a farewell.
I showed up, not dressed in Hasidic garb—with a yarmulke, yes, but one that was knitted, not a fur hat.