Ethics

For the week ending 30 June 2012 / 9 Tammuz 5772

Giving a Lift

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Is there an obligation when I am driving to give a lift to someone who is going my way?

Answer: Giving a lift is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of gemilut chassidim. Some even characterize it as an act of hachnassat orchim hospitality.

There may, of course, be situations in which giving a lift cannot be expected of you. If you are in a very great hurry and stopping to pick someone up will seriously delay you, or you are interested in carrying on a private conversation with someone already in your car or on the other end of a phone (when you can talk without letting go of the steering wheel), you have a right to pass up the potential passenger.

The story is told of the founder of the great Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, who once hired a taxi to take him from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. He made a condition with the driver that he must pick up any passengers going their way.

(The rising price of gas may be used by some drivers as an excuse for not giving a lift in order to save on gas but such a negligible expense should hardly stand in the way of doing a mitzvah.)

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