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March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
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Respect For Our Fellow Human Beings


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“If that is a Sage,” exclaimed the man, “may there not be many more like him in Israel!”

People Shocked

The people were shocked and angry.

“What do you mean? Why do you say such a terrible thing about a great sage in Israel?”

The man, thereupon, told them the whole story about how he had greeted Rabi Elazar and how the sage had shamed him.

“This is why I said what I did.”

The people, however, said to him:

“We understand why you said what you did but despite that, forgive him for he is a great man of Torah.”

The man thought for a while and finally relented.

“Very well. For your sakes I relent and will forgive him. But I insist on one condition that he never accustom himself to do such a thing again.”

Rabi Elazar immediately entered the Beis Midrash and spoke these words:

“At all times shall a man be as soft as a reed and let him not be as hard as a cedar.”

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The man has been found guilty and his soul is bitter because of it.

But the words would penetrate their hearts and each would say to himself: “But I, too, am doing this terrible thing.” In this way Reb Elimelech would inspire the people to teshuvah.

“I will tell you,” replied the rav. “I am very puzzled at why you suddenly desire to honor me and have me as your guest. What quality do you find in me that is new and worthy of merit?

“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

“Don’t worry,” said the king, “what could it be worth, two or three talents of gold? I’ll give you ten talents of gold, so you can forget about it.”

Shmuel HaKatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The arguments, however, could never appease his wife and one Thursday she came to him for money to purchase food for Shabbos.

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