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: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…