Friday, July 04, 2008

Renouncing his Honor

Rav Ashi (Daf Yomi: Sotah 41b) said that even according to the opinion that a prince may forgo his honor; a king may not forgo his honor! This is indicated by the verse that states “put for yourself a king,” implying that his awe should (always) be placed upon you.

It is noteworthy that a Torah scholar can renounce his honor. What is the difference between the two?

Reb Chaim Brisker explains: A king has a higher status than an ordinary person because the people appointed him as a king. In truth, everyone is fit to become a king. Once he is appointed king, everyone is obligated to honor him. If the king renounces his honor, it is as if he is reverting to being an ordinary constituent, for there is no tangible difference between them except the honor accorded to him.

This is not the case with respect to a Torah scholar. Everyone is required to honor him because of his inherent status. Even if he chooses to renounce his honor, his higher level remains the same. This is why he is permitted to renounce his honor.