Ethics

For the week ending 17 June 2006 / 21 Sivan 5766

Speaking to the Speaker

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: As one who attends many lectures from Torah personalities, I am often faced with the dilemma of whether to thank the speaker at the conclusion of his talk. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: You owe a debt of gratitude to the speaker who has made the effort to address your audience, even if he is being compensated for his talk. If you feel that you enjoyed his words and benefited from them, it would be proper for you to compliment him on his success.

What if you have already heard the speaker say the same thing before?

There is a story told about the Ponovezher Rav, Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, who was a world-renowned orator in addition to his stature as a Torah leader. During a fundraising visit to the US on behalf of the great yeshiva he founded in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Kahaneman was scheduled to speak on successive nights in two major cities. When he began preparing his second speech, he decided to use the same one that he had so successfully used the night before since this would be an entirely different audience. When he got up to speak, however, he saw a gentleman sitting in the front row who had been in the front row the other night. He quickly improvised a different speech, which, of course, was well received.

At the conclusion of his talk he was greeted by that fellow in the front row who told him: “Rabbi Kahaneman, that was a great talk but not as good as the one you gave last night in the other city. I came all the way here to hear you say it again!”

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