"Headlong into harm"

A Simple Jew commented here and asked me how I interpret the following said in the name of R Yisrael Lipkin of Salant: When running to complete a Mitzvah, one can destroy an entire world on the way.
I think the following two vignettes about R Yisrael should be told in order before I continue:
A) When asked to tell something over about Pesach, R Yisrael would tell his talmidim prior to Pesach that they should be careful to be nice to the widows that bake the shum’ra matza they purchase before Pesach.

B) R Yisrael was once asked to tell over a thought prior to starting davening on Yom Kippur. He told those around him that they should be careful before davening that night when they put on their tallisism and not hit the person behind them with the tzitzis of their own tallis.

Clearly being, what was viewed at the time, as highly sensitive to others was a major part of R Yisrael’s Avodas Hashem. He put a re-emphasis on mitzvos Bein Adam L’Chavero that seemed to be lacking in the mid-to-late 1800’s. For him, in fact, Bein Adam L’Chavero was an aspect of Bein Adam L’Makom.

Shabbos night two weeks ago (just after R Yisrael’s Yartzeit) I actually read the above quote to my 8yr old. I gave him the above examples and also asked him if it would be fair if he was running a race and decided to trip someone he was running against so that he could win. Of course, he thought that it would be unfair and not a “real win”. Then I used a senario that was more close to home. When we are late to shul Shabbos morning (this is a real life example) and we rush into the beis medresh so that we can get two seats together, how would Hashem look at us if we bumped into several people on the way and distrubed their kavana as they were davening to Hashem?

This is probably what R Yisrael was speaking about…frumkeit. Let me use my zerizus to do whatever I need to do to, and another’s expense, to fullfill my mitzvah. That’s what the founder of the Mussar movement was up against. I see the same thing when people go shopping and grab the last package of sushi pushing aside someone’s shopping cart or a parent cuttting off cars so that they can get a prime spot in the ‘car line’ at school. To some, it might not seem like a chiddush to be thoughtful. Others, just might not think. If each mitzvah that we do creates a malach and each person is considered a ‘world’, then how careful must we be that the path we make towards fullfilling even the ‘smallest’ mitzvah doesn’t totally destroy the proverbial flower garden that belongs to our neighbor?

2 thoughts on “"Headlong into harm"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *