web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


A Humbling Lesson (Part III)

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

The Talmud teaches that if there is ever a conflict, saving a life always has priority over mitzvah performance. An obvious example would be if someone’s life is in peril the person must go to the hospital on Shabbos and the driving to get to the medical facility does not constitute chillul Shabbos, but rather a fulfillment of the Torah injunction, “You shall live by them [the mitzvos],” from which the Talmud derives, “and not die by them.”

There are, however, three exceptions – known as yehareig v’al ya’avor, sometimes referred to as the Three Cardinal Sins. Regarding these three critical transgressions, the law is that one must be prepared to give up one’s life rather than violate the sin.

The specific application of when one must be prepared to sacrifice one’s life rather than violate a Torah precept pertains to idol worship, sexual crimes and – not derived from a Torah verse – murder. The reason that there is no specific verse regarding the latter, such as when under the threat of death you are ordered to kill someone or be killed yourself, is because a verse is not required to teach that which is logical. “Who says,” asks the Talmud, “that your blood is redder than another person’s? Perhaps the opposite is the case.”

Regarding the last instance, the chassidic rebbe, Reb Simcha Bunim, noted that this seminal Talmudic ruling conveys an important lesson about humility. “The fact that we cannot kill an innocent person to save our own lives is based on the presumption that we cannot know whose life is more important in the eyes of God. If even in so crucial a moment we have no right to deem ourselves superior to another, what right can we possibly have to do so on less critical occasions?”

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his Codes of Jewish Ethics (volume I), highlights another ramification of this Talmudic teaching: Don’t exploit others, as historically was done through slavery, as is done today by those who overwork, underpay, or otherwise wrong their employees. How can one assume that one’s blood is more precious than the blood of those whom one mistreats?

And this teaching has implications in far less serious areas than matters of life and death and exploitation. For example, a humble person will not push ahead of someone else in line. One who pushes assumes that his place is in front of where he currently is. And when he acquires that place he seeks a place even further ahead.

A humble person will contemplate, “What gives me the right to assume that my time is more valuable than his?” In more practical terms, a humble person (not only a decent person) will not double- or triple-park. The thought of causing others inconvenience is anathema to him or her. Such an individual will not cut a line – not at a buffet, nor on the entrance ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge – for they do not believe that their time is more important than the time of others.

There are many “likewise” categories regarding humble people, which is why it is not coincidental that they are appealing individuals. If we think about those who annoy us, the humble ones never make it to the list. Let us analyze some of these “becauses.”

A humble person bears no ill will toward those who disagree with her or him. Such an individual is aware that people have the right to understand the world differently, and that their perceptions might have something to teach her or him.

Another fair generalization about humble people is that they do not see themselves as superior to others – or more deserving. Accordingly, they are less apt to suffer from a sense of entitlement. Instead, they are grateful for all that they are blessed with.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Humbling Lesson (Part III)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A ZAKA team in action.
ZAKA Rescued Body of Abandoned Jewish Soldier Who Died for Ukraine
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Humility often confused with low self-esteem, truly means that a person realizes his true worth

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

If we are certain that God is on our side, we can easily become arrogant and even cruel

Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/a-humbling-lesson-part-iii/2014/08/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: