Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Responding with Derech Eretz

My first grandchild was born the night of the beginning of 20 Nissan.  In North Miami Beach Florida.  We were in Chicago.  That's approximately 1380 miles; 20 to 23 hours; depending on whose driving.  First grandchild.  Acharon shel Pesach starts in less than 20 hours.  There are four of us going, so flying (even if tickets would be available) are not an option.  Oh, yes, and we have to pack.  And its Pesach.  First grandchild.

Chasdei HaShem, we have amazing friends in Atlanta, GA; which just happens to be half way between Chicago and North Miami Beach.  Whew!  We packed, slept a couple of hours, drove, stopped to daven, drove some more, and made it to Atlanta with over an hour spare.

The rav, Rabbi Feldman, shilta, spoke between mincha and ma'ariv about an issue that was really upsetting him -- people walking out when there is a guest speaker.  The truth is, walking out when anyone -- even the rav -- speaks, is a at least a breach of derech eretz.  He ended with this message:  "If you are not going to conduct yourself with exemplary derech eretz in shul; don't come -- you are not welcome."  I was impressed both by the message and by the fact he could say that and retain his job.  (He is still there today.)

How far should derech eretz and darchie shalom go in shul?  There are several of us who learn at the vasikin minyan.  Because the time of davening moves around, we shift our learning schedule to either before or after davening.  This time of year we are mostly learning after davening.  A Jew (someone I didn't recognize, so not a regular and maybe from out of town) came in after davening, while we were all starting to learn.  He walked straight up to the shulchan and started shmone esrei out loud; intending to make himself ba'al ha'bayis over our time to answer his k'dusha; because he was late and, well... he wanted to.  There was no minyan davening ; we had all davened.  Answer him or not?

Halichos Shlomo on T'fila addresses precisely this question in the D'var Halacah, perek 9, s.k. 9.  He says that even though it is forbidden to walk in an interrupt everyone's learning, it seems to him that it is appropriate to answer because of darchei shalom.  A stranger walks in, takes the amud without permission, interrupts everyone's learning; and its appropriate, says R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tzl, to be polite and answer in order not to cause a machlokes.  That's what it means to have exemplary derech eretz in shul.

By the way, this has happened only one other time I can remember at vaskin.  Also by the way, the only reason I know exactly where that halacha is in Halichos Shlomo is that I learn a paragraph or so each day and just happened to be learning that halacha today as the interloper started.  I guess if I can take mussar from a movie, I can can take mussar from a sefer.  I'm going to work on my derech eretz.  Bli neder.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…