“The High Pressure Hagbah”
A Moral Dilemma for the Shabbos Table
By Rabbi Yitzi Weiner
In this week’s Torah portion we learn how Moshe sets up a system of judges to adjudicate claims between two parties. There is a mitzva for judges to adjudicate claims between parties. (Click HERE for stories about this mitzva.)
This brings us to the following true dilemma.
Ari went to shul one Shabbos.After the reading of the Torah, the gabbai, the shul official, went over to Ari and asked him if he would like to do hagbah, to lift the Torah. Ari declined saying that he had a sore shoulder.
“Come on, don’t chicken out, you can do it”, the gabbai pressured him.“I really can’t do it, my shoulder is killing me,” Ari protested. “Stop making up excuses” the gabbai chided. “You can do it”. At this point, with his exchange with the gabbai attracting the curious interest of many people around him, Ari felt embarrassed to say no.
Succumbing to the gabbai’s pressure, Ari went up to the Torah and tried to do the hagbah. As Ari held the Torah high in the air, he felt a sharp pop in his shoulder. The Torah nearly fell to the ground. Luckily there were people standing around Ari who were able to catch the Torah in time.Ari felt humiliated. More immediately, his shoulder was now in extreme pain. Ari later went to the doctor. It turned out that Ari dislocated his shoulder. The doctor required Ari to undergo a regiment of surgery and then physical therapy. Because of all of these medical concerns, Ari also had to miss many days of work.
Between the new medical and therapy bills, and the lost wages at work, the ill-fated pressured hagbah cost Ari close to $20,000 in damages.In frustration Ari approached the gabbai with this development.
“I think you have to pay me for all of the financial damages. I only did the hagbah because you pressured me. I told you my shoulder was sore, but you didn’t listen. I only gave in because you were embarrassing me in front of my friends.” The gabbai now felt bad about what happened. “I am sorry that you got hurt, and that all of this happened. I really am. But I don’t think I have to pay all this money. After all, even though I pressured you, you still chose to do the hagbah. You didn’t have to listen to me.”
What do you think? Is the gabai obligated?
See Veharev Na Volume Three page 322
Answer to last week’s question, “Super Clever Parking”
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zt”l writes that Mordechai did nothing wrong. See Veharev Na Volume One page 232 for further explanation.
Click HERE if you would like to receive this question series as an email each week.