Loving Kindness – SEFER AHAVAS CHESED – 26th Av, 5769
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24 Av, 5769 / August 14, 2009
Day 142 – Safe Passage
SEFER AHAVAS CHESED — Part III Chapter II
A man is rushing down the sidewalk of a city street, hoping that he has not missed his bus. Suddenly he becomes aware of a voice calling in his direction. At the curb, a car stands idling while the driver shouts, “Excuse me, sir! Can you give me some directions?” A mitzvah has now presented itself to the pedestrian. He can pretend he does not hear the request and walk on. He can give a few vague instructions that might get the man somewhat closer to his destination; or, he can provide the driver with accurate directions and stick with the task until he feels sure that he has been understood.
The demands of hachnasas orchim make the last option the only option. Although the driver is not a guest in the man’s home, he is a wayfarer in need of help, and this pedestrian is the one he has chosen — Hashem has chosen — to have the opportunity to provide that help. If the pedestrian walks away, his purpose in being at that place at that time will have been defeated. If he offers uselessly vague instructions, he will be accountable if the driver, in his confusion, has an accident or strays into a bad neighborhood.
Certainly when someone is a guest in a person’s home, the host bears responsibility for getting him to his next destination safely. If the neighborhood is a dangerous one, the guest must be provided with an escort. One common situation arises when a babysitter comes to the home to care for a child. Even if one feels there is no danger and the babysitter is willing to walk alone, she should be escorted safely home.
Another common situation is when one encounters someone outside a wedding hall, lecture or other gathering place, who asks, “Are you heading in my direction?” If the person inquiring will otherwise take an unsafe route home — such as a subway late at night or a dangerous walk — the answer to his question should be, “As a matter of fact, I am going through that neighborhood.” One should offer the ride, even if it is out of one’s way
Even if a guest has a car parked right outside the host’s house, the host must not allow him to drive it if, for any reason, he is unable to do so safely. If the guest is overtired, not feeling well, or intoxicated on Purim, the host should drive him or find him a taxi or other means to get home.
When a person travels, he also bears some responsibility for reassuring those who might be worried about his safety. If a person knows he will be late, he should take the few minutes to call those who are waiting for him so that they will not spend one unnecessary moment contemplating the many frightening possibilities associated with travel. Even if the traveler feels that the worries are overblown or unjustified, he should respond to the reality of the situation; people worry, and he should not agitate them when he could, with a two minute investment of time, provide peace of mind.
Step by Step
When someone asks me for directions, I will make it my responsibility to make sure they understand where to go.
Taken from “Chofetz Chaim: Loving Kindness – Daily Lessons in the Power of Giving,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation
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