Sunday’s super-sleuth Salanter selection (Sherlock style)

Photo from here

Last Tuesday, January 31, 2012 the following story about Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was included in a letter to the editor of the Palm Beach Post (no, I don’t read this paper, but the link showed up in my Google Alert for “Salanter”).

I recall a story recounted in the name of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, a founder of an ethical movement in Judaism. Rabbi Yisrael saw two boys squabbling over who was taller than the other. One boy took an aggressive action to sustain his view that he was taller by pushing the other into a hole. Rabbi Salanter went over and said, “If you wish to prove that you are taller, put a stone under you, don’t shove another into a hole.”

So, I emailed to people, whom I consider to be fairly well versed in the teaching of R Yisrael Salanter to see if they had heard of this story.  Both were not familar with it.

Now, there’s a quote from R Yisrael Salanter that states, “”Promote yourself, but do not demote another.”  This idea behind this quote seems similar to the story above, however it’s not an exact fit.

Over Shabbos I happened to find the quote below on page 123 of R L Oschry’s translation of Tnuas HaMussar, “The Mussar Movement” by R Dov Katz.  This seems like the missing piece of the puzzle.

To surpass someone else, one must not dig a pit for him, but build a higher platform for oneself.

Update:  A message was sent me regarding the story printed in the Palm Beach Post and I’d like to clarify that the story is, most likely, apocryphal.  Most probably it was created around the quote above.

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