It is basic courtesy to knock on a closed door and wait to be admitted by those inside. Did you know that this simple matter of etiquette was discussed by the sages and has far greater ramifications than merely being polite?

“Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai observed:…the Holy One, blessed be He, hates…the man who enters his (own) house suddenly and much more so [if he so enters] his friend’s house…”(Niddah 16b).

Entering someone’s home without knocking or announcing one’s presence, is considered ill-mannered in almost all societies, but few people consider it necessary to do so in their own homes. And yet, entering unannounced is considered loathesome to God, even in one’s own home!

The commentators suggest that two different verses from the Torah provide examples of how God Himself upholds this level of decorous behavior. “God called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting” (Leviticus 1:1). Before speaking to Moses in the Tent of Meeting, which, it should be noted was not even a private home, God called out to Moses first.

In the previous example, at least, God was approaching Moses in the middle of the camp of the Israelites. But even in the closest thing to God’s own home, the Garden of Eden, God “stood at the gate of the garden, and called to Adam [Gen. 3:9]: ‘And the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?’”(Tractate Derech Eretz 5).

Knocking is far more than just being polite. Knocking, or announcing one’s presence prevents embarrassing situations, and allows others time to compose themselves and thus be prepared to properly greet you.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Related Posts

Knock On

Put the politeness of knocking into practice even at work. Make it a habit to knock on…

Read More


0 Comments1 Minute

Fine Manners

Hold the door for the person behind you, and if someone holds the door for you, make…

Read More


0 Comments1 Minute

Listen Jewish

Support local Jewish radio or television stations.

Read More


0 Comments1 Minute

Privacy Preference Center