Friday, May 20, 2022

Yevamos 6: Action Overrides Thought

On this daf, we find a discussion about what overrides negative mitzvos.

Rav Refoel of Barshad was a very well-known and respected personage. Every time he would enter a shul or gathering, he would sit in a common seat that was very distant from the coveted front wall.

One person felt that this was very strange and decided to ask him what was behind this odd practice. “With all due respect, I cannot fathom what is behind the rebbe’s custom. Either way, if the rebbe sits in the back because he has true humility, why not sit in the front? Surely, one can retain a feeling of broken-heartedness even while sitting in an honorable seat. And if the rebbe has problems with thoughts of arrogance, chas veshalom, what does sitting in the back help? Clearly, it is possible to be filled with self-inflated feelings while sitting in the back as well as in the front. On the contrary, it is possible to fathom how one would be filled with more thoughts of arrogance because he acts humble…”

Rav Refoel replied, “Our sages teach that although action nullifies the intent in one’s thoughts, mere thoughts cannot nullify action. If I, who am unworthy for the honor, were to sit on the mizrach, I would be doing an action of arrogance while trying to overcome this with thoughts of humility. But we see that this is an exercise in futility. However, sitting in the back is an action of humility which overcomes any thoughts of arrogance. Isn’t it clear that this is the only option that gives me a chance of overcoming thoughts of arrogance?” (Shulchan Hatohar p. 32).

 

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