Ethics

For the week ending 21 March 2009 / 25 Adar I 5769

Relying on a Promise

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: An observant Jew was driving from one city to another on Friday afternoon when his car stalled. It was only 1:30 and Shabbat was hours away so he called a towing company to bring his vehicle to his home. He insisted that since he was a Shabbat observer he wanted to be sure that the car would arrive at his home before Shabbat. He was assured that his request would be honored and he got a cab to take him home. What was the right thing to do?

Answer: As most people facing situations in which they are promised prompt service only to be disappointed by delay, this fellow should have realized that he could not rely on the towing company's promise. This actually happened to a lawyer who was terribly embarrassed when his towed car arrived at ten o'clock on Shabbat eve at his home located in a neighborhood in which both observant and secular Jews live. He came to a rabbi to pour out his heart, regretting his having relied on the promise given him rather than leaving his car on the side of the road till after Shabbat.

The rabbi suggested that in order to atone for his mistake that caused a public desecration of the holy day, he should write letters to the editors of the religious newspapers cautioning others to avoid making the same mistake.

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