Jun 10, 2014

Setting a Standard

I heard an interesting thought from Rabbi Aharon Dovid Gancz of Monsey.  Someone he was mekarev told him about a problem he had.  The mekurav's father kept kosher to a minimum standard and this son of his felt he could not trust his kashrus.  His father was upset.  How dare his son not trust him, and was his son holier than him, and why did his son have to keep a higher standard, wasn't his standard good enough?

R' Gancz asked him, would your father understand if I did not eat in his house? The man said sure, you are a rabbi.  So R' Gancz said, the problem then is, that you are not a rabbi.  Don't blame your father!

R' Gancz says he uses this concept often, in tznius for example.  We need to be so inculcated with the midda and mindset of tznius that nobody would dare behave or dress otherwise in our presence; they would feel uncomfortable to do so.  He calls for "raising the bar" in all areas.

It has been noted that the same people who seemingly have no qualms about dressing inappropriately among other religious Jews, would behave respectfully if they were invited to the home of Japanese who asked them to remove their shoes.  Why is this so? I think R' Gancz has the answer.  The Japanese set a tone which most people would be loathe to violate.  Also, as guests, they would not want to insult their hosts.  Amongst ourselves though, we feel like the brothers and sisters which we are, and "Don't tell me what to do!"


  1. To me it is the same concept as when we are at home we relax, wear a robe, do what we want but when we are guests, we act more formally. If we feel "at home" with our religious compatriots, we feel that we can act "heimish". For example, people in bungalow colonies often dress and act as though the other members of the colony are close relatives, even if they are not. Those same people dress and behave differently in the city.

  2. And yet, if introduced to a great rabbi or rebbetzin, most people would act respectfully because it is unthinkable to behave otherwise in their presence. And that is the standard R' Gancz is talking about, the one in which the father would understand that his son, if he was a rabbi, could not possibly eat in his house.

  3. I just read a story in which the irreligious cab driver put on his cap when rabbis entered his cab. Why? Out of respect.