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Thought for the Day: Kavod ha'Bri'os and Shabbos

I heard a nice vort on perspective from my rabbi in Dallas over 20 years ago: When you are 20 you are worried about what everyone thinks of you.  When you are 30 you are above having petty concerns for what everybody thinks of you.  When you are 40 you realize that no one is really thinking of you.  As true as that is, there is one exception.  Namely, when you make a mistake or do something silly, the people who most couldn't care less about you all of the sudden sit up and take notice.  As noted in Carrying vs Wearing on Shabbos, Chazal were concerned about that.  As much as one should not be concerned about low people snickering behind his back (but loud enough for him to hear), we are concerned.  Moreover, the stakes are very high because we are at risk of a d'oraisa Shabbos violation.

The Shulchan Aruch therefore paskens (OC 301:7) that one may not go out wearing only one shoe unless you have a sore on your foot.  If you have a sore on one foot, however, you may go out with a shoe on the other foot.  The reasoning is that it is too painful to wear the shoe over the sore and everyone will realize you have a sore on your foot and so won't make fun of you.  The Biur Halacha, however, notes that the m'chaberis paskening like Chiya bar Rav in the g'mara.  Rav Huna, however, argues and holds that you may only go out with one shoe if it is on the foot which does have the sore.  (Presumably, in that case, you won't take the shoe off even if someone does make fun of you because you need to protect the sore.)

The fact that the m'chaber chooses a side in the machlokes and paskens according to that opinion without even mentioning that there is a machlokes is no surprise.  That, after all, is the job of the Shulchan Aruch.  So why is the Biur Halacha bringing up the issue?  Well... there are other acharonim who pasken like Rav Huna.  Even more than that, the G"ra brings a proof to Rav Huna from the Yerushalmi.  While we "don't pasken" like the Yerushalmi; that is only when the Yerushalmi argues on the Bavli.  When the Bavli leaves something as a machlokes, though, we often use the Yerushalmi to resolve the conflict.  That being the case, the Biur Halacha paskens it is better to go barefoot on Shabbos than to wear only one shoe on either foot.

You may never have the occasion to have a sore on only one foot that is so bad you can't fit a shoe over, or so much want to go barefoot that you would like to wear a shoe only over the sore.  However, the idea that being made fun of could make a person forget himself and transgress Shabbos at the d'oraisa level is mind boggling.  Chazal did not say, "Hey!  Get over yourself and ignore the stupid remarks of low people."  Rather, they took the feelings of that one Jew absolutely seriously and made a decree to protect him.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but a thoughtless word can destroy an eternity.


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