For the week ending 9 April 2005 / 29 Adar II 5765

Passing on the Pavement

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Become a Supporter Library Library

Question: I realize that this question is very different from the ones you usually deal with. It may be "way out of left field" but it is one that has always bothered me. What happens when you are walking on the pavement and someone is walking in the opposite direction right towards you! How can you avoid a collision?

Answer: When I was in elementary school our teacher taught us that you should walk to the right. This might have been an subconscious application of the Talmudic dictum that "every turn you make should be to the right". No such application is, however, made by our Sages and there is a built-in flaw because the fellow coming towards you may not have gone to the same school.

A general rule in human affairs which emerges from the ethical writings of our Torah scholars is that one should avoid being "pushy". Applying this to the situation you describe, the best advice would be to pause for a moment and gracefully signal to the oncoming pedestrian to pass you on either your right or left.

Not only will you thus avoid a collision but you will make the other fellow feel good that someone showed him such deference.

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions

« Back to Ethics

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.