Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Not On Each Other's Backs

An excellent post at BeyondBT, putting chumrahs in perspective:

A couple of weeks ago in my Gemorah shiur we got into an aside about Chumras. The Rabbe mentioned that he had once been approached by a gentleman who was asking for Tzedeka to help him buy a set of Tefillin for his grandson. As the discussion unfolded it turned out that this grandfather was seeking assistance in buying a $1500 set of Tefillin! The Rebbe, originally inclined to assist, declined to contribute. He said that it’s one thing to help with a mitzvah, but this gentleman should not be asking others to support his chumra.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine shared a D’var Torah with me at a Shalom Zachor. It was around Parshat Vayakel. He started by posing the question, “What was the difference between the Keilim (vessels) that were in the Beit Hamikdash vs those in the Mishkan”? The answer is that in the Mishkan there was only one of each vessel and they were smaller than the ones in the Beit Hamikdash. This was so in spite of the fact that the B’nei Yisrael offered Moshe enough to have larger and multiple vessels in the Mishkan. In fact the B’nai Yisrael were offering so much of their possessions that Moshe had to tell them to stop. Why did he stop them? Surely, he knew that their destiny was to build a Temple large enough to accommodate whatever they wanted give. The answer given was that since the Mishkan was portable and carried by men, Moshe did not want the B’nai Yisrael to think that they could satisfy their desire to do extra (be Machmir) on their brothers’ backs.

We've discussed this concept here before, not just in terms of chumrahs, but any personal choice that places a burden on the community. One is allowed to take on any lifestyle or choice for themselves, so long as that does not cause a burden to others - the other story the writer cites about his daughter sacrificing on her own standard for the sake of her grandfather is exactly how such a situation should probably be approached, and they should all be commended for it.

1 comment:

  1. Great point.

    Interesting note: I believe it was Rafi who psted on his blog a transciption of the Skverer Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel's speech to his kehilla proposing an all women's hatzalah to protect the tznius.

    I printed it out to read it (it was in Yiddish), and was very pleasantly surprised to hear that after thanking the existing Hatzalah profusley and warmly commending them for all the work they do, before he began his idea, he repeatedly and specifically emphasized how his kehillah should not think that this is required in all of klal Yisrael, which is all good and Yireim Shamayim, but that for their own community, where they try to go higher, they can try to do this. He specificaklly emphasized that this is not for everyone and that his kehillah should not look down at others who do not adopt this chumrah- it is only for them and not a requirement.

    I am not intimately familiar with the Skverr community, but I do admit we all come with preconcieved notions, and I was very impressed when I read this.