Sunday, January 28, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 20 - Being Filmed while Engaged in Rescue Work

When You Go Out to War — HaRav Yitzchok Silberstein Discusses Questions Arising During Wartime

Dei'ah VeDibur

Question Five: Being Filmed While Engaged in Rescue Work

Is it correct for a Hatzalah worker to be filmed while selflessly rescuing the wounded, in order to provide a good example to others, or for fundraising purposes?

Answer: The gemora (Kesuvos 66) brings the following story. Rabban Yochonon ben Zakai was riding a donkey out of Yerushalayim and his disciples were following him on foot. He saw a young woman — the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion — gathering barley grains from among the dung dropped by the Arab's animals. He asked her, "What happened to your father's wealth?"

She replied, "Rabbi, don't they say this parable in Yerushalayim — To `salt' [i.e. preserve] money, deduct from it [by giving tzedokoh]?"

The gemora asks, "Didn't Nakdimon ben Gurion give tzedokoh? The beraissa says that when he left his house to go to the beis hamedrash they would spread pieces of lace beneath his feet and the poor would then come and fold them up." It answers, "You could say that he did this for his own honor, or you could say that he didn't do as much as he could have done."

Kovetz Shiurim (Kesuvos siman 224) asks on this gemora from Rashi in Pesochim (8) who writes that when a person does a mitzvah, intending both to fulfill the mitzvah and to derive benefit, he is still worthy of being called a complete tzaddik. He explains that we would have to say that here Nakdimon had only his own honor in mind — a very difficult assertion, in light of the fact that his name is explained (Gittin 56) as a reference to an incident when Heaven showed him special favor as a result of his generosity (Taanis 20).

Alternatively, to do a mitzvah for one's own honor is worse than hoping to derive personal benefit from it, as is the case in Pesochim. The former is akin to serving Hashem in partnership, as the Chovos Halevovos writes.

The Chofetz Chaim [however,] cites the gemora in Menochos (41) which says that at a time of Divine wrath, punishment is meted out for things that are normally not [immediately] punishable.

The incident related by the gemora in Kesuvos took place around the time of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh which was unparalleled as a time of Divine wrath; thus Nakdimon's punishment was much worse than it would ordinarily have been.

With regard to our case, at a time of war one should serve Hashem by practicing `pure' kindness towards others without any ulterior motive and it should be done quietly and privately. If Hatzalah need such footage in order to help them raise funds they can film their worker but they should obscure his face so that his deeds remain untainted [by pride] — Nakdimon ben Gurion was also a great man yet he fell prey [to this]. If the Hatzalah worker is pure- hearted he may be filmed.