Ethics

For the week ending 12 March 2005 / 1 Adar II 5765

The Cabbies Dilemma

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: A patient with a serious skin disorder left a hospital after receiving treatment and asked the manager of the taxi stand to arrange a cab to take him home. None of the cab drivers agreed to take him since they were aware that because of his condition he would exude a very unpleasant odor in the cab which would make it impossible to take other passengers for a considerable period. In the end the only ride this embarrassed fellow got was with the hospitals garbage truck. What is the right thing to do in such a case?

Answer: In regard to this real-life situation, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, rav of the Ramat Elchanan community in Bnei Brak, pointed out that while the cab drivers could not be expected to sacrifice their livelihood for the sake of such a problematic passenger, there was something they should have done. A truly conscientious cabbie, the rabbi noted, should have approached the fellow with the bad odor and offered to take him to his destination on the condition that he compensate him for the loss of income he expected to incur from not being able to take other passengers until the odor cleared. This would have been a fair offer which would have spared the patient the embarrassment he suffered from being completely rejected.

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