Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Undeserved Punishment

The Rambam writes, “Anyone who strikes his fellow Jew for no reason, whether child or adult, man or woman, violates a negative commandment. As the verse states, "לא יוסיף להכותו"—‘He shall not continue to strike him.’ If the Torah forbids us to add blows to a sinner who deserves Makkos, it is all the more true that we are prohibited from striking a tzaddik who does not deserve to be hit at all!”
When the Beis Halevi, zt”l, was forced to give a divorce to his first wife due to a trick played on his father-in-law, he was unsure how to spell his nickname, "יושע בער". Of course, the proper spelling is with a shin, but since Lithuanian Jews normally pronounced it “Yosse Ber,” perhaps it should really be spelled with a samech? The dayanim held one way, while the Beis Halevi argued differently. Finally, they agreed with him and wrote it as he felt was correct. That night he suddenly realized that it was possible that the dayanim had been correct after all and his proofs were not really compelling. The next morning he asked the dayanim to write another get just in case, but they refused.
In order to be certain he had freed his ex-wife entirely the Beis Halevi decided to travel to Brody and ask the renowned Rav Shlomo Kluger, zt”l, his opinion on the matter. But the Beis Halevi did not have the funds to travel and was forced to take on a position as an assistant to a wagon driver heading for the large town.
During the ride over it became clear that the rav was inexperienced at holding the reins and every slip resulted in a blow administered to the Beis Halevi. When they finally arrived and the Beis Halevi met Rav Kluger, he was asked to deliver the drasha on Shabbos. The entire crowd was in the shul for the drasha and when the wagon driver saw that his assistant was actually a prominent rav he regretted his actions. After the drasha he begged the Beis Halevi to forgive him since he had not known that he was a talmid chacham.
The Beis Halevi responded, “One who strikes his assistant also violates the prohibition against striking another Jew!”

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