Thursday, July 8, 2010

“Where there is Desecration of Hashem’s Name...”

After a very wealthy man passed away who was survived by a large family and a huge estate, his heirs began to argue about how to allocate their inheritance. They decided to go to the secular courts but, to their dismay, the lawyers’ fees cost a fortune and even after many trials, they were no closer to an agreement than when they had started. On the other hand, the estate was very much diminished and this pained them no end.
After some deliberation, they decided to go to the beis din of Rav Menachem Mendel of Vishaver, zt”l, for adjudication. After all, what could they lose?
Their case was very public so when they walked into the beis din, the Rav immediately understood why they had come. Straight away, he fired off a scathing remark based on today’s daf. “Our sages teach: 'במקום שיש חילול ה' אין חולקין כבוד לרב'—‘In a place where there is desecration of Hashem’s Name, one does not give honor to the Rav.’ But perhaps this can be read a bit differently to apply to the present case. 'במקום שיש'—in a case where there is a fortune of money involved—'חילול ה''—and the parties involved do not overcome their inclination to take their case to the gentile courts and make a chilul Hashem; 'אין'—if the money diminishes until hardly any remains; 'חולקין כבוד לרב'—then they have no choice but to come for adjudication in beis din!
He then turned to the litigants in an impassioned voice, “But the question is, why did you wait until this point? Why did you waste such a fortune of money and time while at the same time causing a terrible chilul Hashem?”

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