Yielding

We are often faced with a situation where we end up yielding to someone else even though we believe that we are equally entitled. This is especially true when we deal with someone who is at a disadvantage.

Letting a physically-challenged person go first because it is difficult for him to move around or holding the door for an elderly person because it is difficult for him to do so on his own are all things that we readily understand.

However, sometimes we may find that our motive for yielding as noble and dignified as it may seem is actually self-fulfilling and intended to let us feel proper or religious about ourselves. We may believe that by yielding we are performing an act of grace, an act that is beyond the letter of the law.

The Talmud Yerushalmi teaches us that a person entering a bathhouse must give way to the person leaving the bathhouse because he is tired from bathing. Similary, the person who already used the facilities must give way to the person waiting to use the facilities because one is not permitted to hold in his bowels. (Bava Kamma 3:5)

The lesson that the Talmud Yerushalmi teaches us here is that yielding to the needs of others, especially to the disadvantaged is not beyond the letter of the law but the letter of the law. It is not an option but an obligation

Giving way, especially to the disadvantaged is not pious but normative behavior!

Michael Linetsky is the director of the Talmud Yerushalmi Institute If you would like to receive these postings your mailbox when they become available, please email {encode=”througheyesoftalmudyerushalmi@gmail.com” title=”througheyesoftalmudyerushalmi@gmail.com”}