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An Invitation To Dinner

An Invitation To Dinner

Ethics 3:11


Rabbi Elazar Ha'Muda'ee says: “Whoever embarrasses a person in public, has no share in the World to Come.” (Avot 3:11)

"Forgive me," said Rav Hoshaya, "I only wanted to protect your feelings…"
"Forgive me," said Rav Hoshaya, "I only wanted to protect your feelings…"
Rabbi Hoshayah took great care with the education of his son. He made sure that he would have a teacher who would not only teach him Torah, but would also be exemplary in his character and behavior.

The teacher Rabbi Hoshayah took for his son was blind. He was very learned, and he had great fear of Heaven. Rabbi Hoshayah admired the teacher very much. Every day he would invite the teacher to come and eat with him. He felt it was a big mitzvah to honor his son’s teacher, and he enjoyed discussing the Torah with him.

One day Rabbi Hoshayah found himself in a predicament. Guests arrived unexpectedly, and stayed a very long time. Rabbi Hoshayah was afraid of bringing his blind guest for dinner. Perhaps the guests would feel uncomfortable. Perhaps they might even say something which would embarrass the blind teacher. Reluctantly, Rabbi Hoshayah decided it would be better not to invite the teacher that day.

Meanwhile, when Rabbi Hoshayah did not show up as usual, the teacher wondered what had happened. “Perhaps he no longer finds it pleasant to have me dine with him,” the teacher thought.

The guests stayed many hours. As soon as they left, Rabbi Hoshayah hurried over to the house of the teacher.

“Good evening, Rabbi,” said Rabbi Hoshayah. “Please forgive me. I feel so terrible. I had unexpected guests, and I was afraid that if I brought you to dine with us, they might insult you or embarrass you in some way, so I did not invite you to the meal. Please forgive me. Please don’t be angry.”

The blind teacher was very relieved. He thought Rabbi Hoshayah had forgotten him. Now he realized that Rabbi Hoshayah had wanted only to protect his feelings, and had even come to beg forgiveness.

The blind teacher said, “I cannot see, though everyone can see me — and you ask my forgiveness. May the Almighty G‑d who sees all, but cannot be seen, look kindly upon you.”

Amen,” said Rabbi Hoshayah, grateful for the blind man’s blessing.

Courtesy of Tzivos Hashem.
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Dennis Wulkan Seattle, WA May 17, 2011

Invitation to Dinner Nosson makes a good point about sensitivity. Perhaps my initial remarks were too short and subtle, so let me be more explicit:

1. To not invite the blind teacher because of someone potentially making an insensitive remark is patronizing. it is wrong to go through life trying to avoid potential remarks or incidents that may or may not happen.
2. The presumption itself that someone will make an insensitive remark or someone might feel uncomfortable is also wrong.
3. To presume that the teacher with all of his experience and wisdom could not handle or address such a remark or be unable to have normal relationships at dinner is an insult to the teacher.
4. What does this story say about the Rabbi's friends/guests? Does he have so little faith in them, or have they already proven themselves to be intolerant, insensitive and unworthy?
If so, the proper course of action is for the Rabbi to have dinner with the teacher and disinvite the other guests. Reply

Nosson Beijing May 12, 2011

invitation to dinner To Denis,
I agree that we must help others and create tolerance etc.
But not at his teachers expense, if someone would have mentioned something negative his teacher would have been embarrassed as to his sensitivity to such things.
It is the feelings of teacher we must care for.
Of course however if it was after the fact than the Rabbi would defend his teacher. Reply

Anonymous yerushalayim, Israel May 11, 2011

handicapped people
We have a bright but severely handicapped C.P. son, who is now 24. He can't walk or talk or stand, and is able to sit in his wheeclhair only with a specially built insert. He doesn't have any use of his hands but with all that we have comunication with him because his face is very expressive and H-shem (Gd) in His infinate kindness has given us the ability to understand him. He also has a trachyostomy(tube in his throat) and eats through a feeding tube in his stomach. We always invite guests and they come back also. He loves to be with people and is he less important than the guests? To us, he's MORE important. We take him to all his brothers and sisters weddings and also the grandsons 'bar-mitzvahs .
There is a beautiful song that Abbie Rotenberg wrote for Hask called "Who am I". I wish everyone could see it performed (it's on Hask Two). (Just have a lot of tissues ready.) And then they will know that these people are
also people, in a different body.


Dennis Wulkan Seattle, WA May 10, 2011

An Invitation To Dinner Too much rationalization. The blind teacher should have been invited. It would have been an opportunity for everyone to develop greater tolerance, understanding, and love. Sometimes we care too much for the opinion and "feelings" of another. One could say the Rabbi exercised lack of courage and faith. Reply

Ethics of the Fathers is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah's views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. Enjoy insights, audio classes and stories on these fascinating topics.
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