To someone who had a difficult situation and asked if he could get a “rabbinical dispensation” to do something otherwise not permissible:

Sorry for the delay in answering. I needed to ponder this for a while, as well as to speak with an expert or two.

First let me bother you with a story. It's about the rabbi who was asked by a congregant, "Rabbi, is it okay to drive to shul on Shabbos?"

Of course, the rabbi didn't really want to answer, but when he was pushed, he did. In his own way: "It depends on whether you're going uphill or downhill."

"But rabbi," the questioner replied, "what if you're not doing either?"

"If you're asking me the question," came the rabbi's reply, "you are either going uphill or downhill."

Look, I really want to help you. But my job isn't to help people slip down a hill. It's to pull them up.

And to be truthful, do you really think that by doing this we’re really going to get anywhere? Our Torah is a Torah of sweetness and compassion—and that includes the traditions the Jewish People have built up around the Torah; even the stringencies that seem to pin you down, on the outside they seem prickly and harsh, but inside they are juicy sweet. Without them, life may seem easier, but in the long term, the sweetness turns to bitter ipecac. With Torah, on the contrary, the bitter turns sweet.

My job is to answer the question asked. But in this case, I just can't help myself and I'm going to overstep my bounds and give advice for which I was not asked: Look for an alternative solution. There's always a better solution. You just need to look.

Now let’s start talking about driving uphill...

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman