Ethics

For the week ending 12 April 2008 / 7 Nisan 5768

Diplomatic Declining

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I have been invited by a relative to join her family for a meal on Pesach. Although she is kashrut observant her standards for Pesach do not quite measure up to mine. I don't wish to insult her with a flat refusal, but I also refuse to make any compromises. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The great Torah leader of the previous generation, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, the rosh hayeshiva of Torah Voda’as in Brooklyn, was once faced with a similar dilemma. He solved the problem by declaring that he did not eat gebrokts — matzah meal combined with liquid, which is the basis for kneidlach and other Pesach foods. Since this is not a universal custom he was able to thus decline the invitation extended by a gebrokts user without hurting any feelings.

This is one way of diplomatically declining an unwelcome invitation on Pesach and there are certainly other ideas that you can come up with and need not make any compromises in your standards.

By the way, it was not the practice of Rabbi Kamenetzky's family to avoid gebrokts, but once having made the statement this man of truth did avoid eating gebrokts for the rest of his life.

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