Friday, April 24, 2009

Lesson from the Chafetz Chaim

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It once happened that some Chasidim, in the days of the Chafetz Chaim, offended a well-known giant in Torah. The Chafetz Chaim was extremely disturbed about it, but he refused to issue a public protest about it. His rationale for this was based upon our Gemora (Bava Kamma 117b) : Rabbah ruled: If a man was chasing after a pursuer with the intention of rescuing the intended victim and he accidentally broke utensils, he is exempt, whether they belonged to the pursued or to any other person. This is not based on a matter of strict law, but it is based upon the following consideration: If you were not to rule like this, no person would ever be willing to rescue a fellow man from the hands of a pursuer. It emerges from here that in order to find people who are willing to rescue someone from the hands of a pursuer, it might come out that innocent people will consequently suffer. The Chasidim, explained the Chafetz Chaim, are fighting to save Klal Yisroel from its pursuers. It will happen that on account of this noble pursuit, innocent people will suffer as a result. [This does not mean to say that he is condoning such behavior at all; he is merely saying that if he would publicly take a stand against their movement, people will refrain from fighting noble causes.]