Ethics

For the week ending 9 October 2004 / 24 Tishri 5765

Giving A Lift

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: As I drive to shul or work in the morning I pass people waiting for a bus who may be going in my direction. Offering them a lift causes me to lose precious moments in my tight schedule and irritate the drivers in the cars behind me. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: One of the mitzvot which guarantees a Heavenly reward in this world and the next is hachnasat orchim - hospitality to guests. The late Torah giant, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zatzal, once noted that in our modern society one usually has guests for meals because he wants their company and this can barely qualify as benevolent hospitality. The greatest opportunity for fulfilling this mitzvah today, he said, is offering someone a ride in your car.

A recent visitor from the States told us about a eulogy which he heard last month for a Jew who, until he died at the age of 97, never missed going to shul in the morning to pray with a minyan despite his frail condition. One day he was standing on the sidewalk futilely trying to hail a cab. As a last resort he waved to a passing garbage truck. When the Brooklyn Sanitation Department worker heard his problem he invited him in to the cab of his truck and went out of his way to drive him to shul.

This story is not only a lesson in what King David tells us about G-d fulfilling the wishes of those who revere Him but also a challenge to those who indifferently pass up the opportunity for inviting a guest into their car.

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