Skip to main content

Thought for the Day:Kavod HaChaim vs Kavod HaMeis and Erev Pesach

If I was looking for guidelines in interpersonal relationships, I would look first to Sha'arei T'shuva, M'silas Yesharim, Chafeitz Chaim, etc.  I would not look in Hilchos Pesach; and I would obviously not even be glancing down at the footnotes.

If I were looking for how to treat a corpse with proper dignity, I'd probably go to Yoreh Dei'ah somewhere.  (That's a lie; I'd call R' Fuerst; but bear with me, please.)  I know it is important, though, because of a Rashi in Chumash; where he notes that even the kohein gadol on his way to do the avoda of Yom Kippur would be required to first take care of a meis mitzvah.  That's astounding!  As important as the avoda of the kohein gadol on Yom Kippur is for all of Klal Yisrael, it does not take precedence over the kavod due a simple Jew whose corpse is lingering unburied; no relative or friend close enough to take care of his last needs in this world, so distant from the community that even the chevra kadisha is unaware of his death.

Yet, these show up together in Hilchos Pesach.  Not in the Mishna Brura, not in the Biur Halacha.  In the Sha'ar HaTziyun; you know, the footnotes at the bottom, that often seem to be just a list of roshei teivos (random letters separated by "s and spaces).  Actually, though, I have found oodles of amazing insights down there.  It's really worth glancing down now and then.

The Mishna Brura in hilchos chameitz on erev Pesach after midday (443:1), the addresses the question of whether to bury a meis or eat first when there is a chance that after the burial you won't get back in time to eat your last Dunkin Donuts before the holiday.  "C'mon," you are thinking, "so the grave digger doesn't get his donut!  He'll make do with fish, eggs, meat, fruit, and vegetables, like the rest of us!"  The Mishna Brura (sk 6) says that when time is short, it is better to eat before burying the meis.  The Sha'ar HaTziyun (sk 9) explains that you are being awfully cavalier with another Jew's feelings.  Who says he is going to be satisfied with that?  Moreover, further notes the Sha'ar HaTziyun, if you do force him to work before eating, he'll rush through things and not exercise the extreme kavod due this Jew.  Much better, the Sha'ar HaTziyun, to eat first, then deal with the burial in a proper and respectful manner.

The message is loud and clear; whenever someone says what they can and can't do, what does and doesn't bother them... you have no right to impose your own criteria for what should and shouldn't be a big deal, what he can and can't do.  Not only do you have to respect his right to feel that way, you have to change your behaviour accordingly.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Is Free Will Entangled?

Catchy title, no? If you were a physicist, you'd be deeply amused by my wittiness. If you are not, you can at least be amused at how witty I think I am being.

Here is the core issue: We humans are the unique beings in Creation who have unencumbered free will. That is, in fact, what the Torah means when it says that man was created in the image of his Creator. (I am oversimplifying a bit; but really just a bit.) The question is whether we can each make our own decisions independently, or do they need to mesh together?
I should note at this point that free will is not anarchy; if I decide to jump up, I am going to follow a relatively ballistic trajectory until I land. I can't decide at the apex of my trajectory to change directions or just hover; my trajectory is a consequence of -- and therefore an integral part of -- my initial decision. The most dramatic way to phrase this question is: If Bob murders George, has Bob's free will choice of murder just interfered with George…

Thought for the Day: Shabbos in a Hospital -- Considerations

Let's take a completely hypothetical scenario: It is Friday afternoon and you've been at the hospital since Monday. The plan from the beginning was to be discharged on Friday. You are at a hospital that is 30 minutes from home (non-rush hour), so you haven't been home the entire week. You have been "bathing" in the rest room by the elevators (you are only the care giver, after all; not the patient, so you don't want to use the shower in the patient room) using the thinnest paper towels known to mankind. They've been telling you all day that the patient is ready to be discharged; all tests and procedures completed/successful/passed. Only waiting for the PA (physician assistant) to finish the paperwork, but he is stuck in surgery. Sundown is at 7:50 PM, you should have been out by 2:00 PM; it is now 3:00... 4:00... 5:00 PM. No worries; sure, it's now rush hour so the commute home is closer to 45 minutes or an hour, sure you haven't bathed properly n…

Thought for the Day: Transgress and Live -OR- Stand Firm and Die

Here's the joke: Moshe was called to pay a visit to the local (non-Jewish) mayor, and old friend who was now a powerful(ish) politician. When Moshe got there, the mayor was eating and asked Moshe if he would care to join him. "I must decline, Mr. Mayor, as the food is not kosher," said Moshe. After eating, the mayor poured himself some wine, again offering the same to Moshe. "I must decline again, Mr. Mayor, as the wine is not kosher," replied Moshe. "My goodness!", said the mayor, "So many rules! What if that is the only thing to eat and you are starving?!" "Ah," said Moshe, "if our like is at risk, then we are allowed -- even required -- to eat whatever will save our life." The mayor suddenly pulled a revolver from under the table and ordered Moshe, "Drink a glass of wine or I shall shoot you dead!" Moshe quickly quaffed a glass of wine. "Another!", roared the glaring mayor. Moshe complied with all h…