וְהָאָמַר רָבָא לְשַׁמָּעֵיהּ: טְוִוי לִי בַּר אֲווֹזָא, וּשְׁדִי מֵיעֵיהּ לְשׁוּנָּרָא.
Didn’t Rava say to his attendant on a Festival: Roast a duck for me, and throw its intestines to the cat. Moving the duck’s intestines was permitted in order to feed the cat.
Picture of Rav Eliyahu Lopian feeding the cat:
While I really should let the picture speak for itself, I will add an interesting observation. All of us have heard similar stories, such as Rav Yisrael Salanter holding a crying infant who was left alone during Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur evening. Or, about the mashgiach who said good morning every day to his neighbor, and then, it turned out, that his neighbor who was also an SS officer turned away and let him escape “Selektzion”.
Why, when we see Gedolim doing ordinary acts of decency are we amazed? Why are we surprised that a Talmid Chacham would stop from his holy pursuits in order to do an every day act of humanity and kindness?
The truth is, that we should NOT be surprised. A godol in middos would absolutely behave in such a manner. Rather, we are so used to some kind of cognitive dissonance whereby being spiritual and learned does not necessarily mean that the person will ALSO be humane and decent. When we see that he is, we express amazement.
You know, Moshe Rabbenu, went for 40 days and 40 nights without food, but Yisro tells him that he will wither if he continues to see people from “morning to evening “???? The Pashut answer is we do not rely on miracles. But, perhaps indeed it is easier to go into a trance and not eat for 40 days than it is to be continuously available to real people and real matters.
I presume gedolim and those learned in Torah and steeped in spirituality are ALSO menschlach. We should stop telling our children stories like this that subtly imply otherwise. We should say, “Here is a way that a man, who was ALSO a godol and had many pressures did the RIGHT THING, just as you and I also do the right thing. He was not too big, to allow himself to be small.”
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria
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