Monday, March 2, 2009

Learning Consideration

The Alter of Slobodka, zt”l, was well known to be a mechanech par excellence. He always noticed what others did and would issue moral direction in exactly the right manner to help the student. His incredible success attests to his acumen. So many prominent rabbis and poskim emerged from Slobodka, that the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, remarked that he was jealous of the Alter. When the surprised hearers asked why, the Chofetz Chaim replied, “I write seforim but he makes mentschen!”
One time the Alter was walking behind a bochur in the street when he noticed the young man go to the side of the sidewalk, stoop to the ground, and pick up a paper. After he gazed at the paper for no more than an instant he replaced it on the ground.
The Alter approached and requested that he explain his strange behavior.
“I noticed that the paper was printed in Hebrew and I figured it was sheimos from a holy sefer and required genizah. But it only took a moment to realize that the paper was not sheimos at all—far from it—and I put it back on the side. After all, it is very much to the side and no one will be damaged by it.”
The Alter looked at him gravely and gently said, “Tell me, what is the halachah for someone who causes his friend to fall to the ground?”
“He is responsible for all damage incurred to the person,” the young man replied.
“How did you fail to realize that another person may very well walk by and also mistakenly think this page is sheimos and bend over for nothing to lift up this paper? By throwing it back down—despite the fact that no one will physically trip over it—you have fashioned a bor b’reshus harabim. This is a stumbling block for your friend since what difference does it make if the bor makes a person fall to the ground or bend over for naught? The moment you picked up the paper and noticed that it was not sheimos, you should have kept it to throw in the garbage to save another some trouble!”

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