Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Wasting Time

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

Please go ahead of me, my lord. I will lead my group slowly... (Bereshith 33:14)

Yaakov said this as a sign of respect to show that he was concerned that he should not waste Esav's time because of his family's slow pace. 1 One must be extremely careful not to waste other people's time, a precious and irreplaceable commodity. There are occasions when it is theft to waste someone else's time, such as an employee whose time belongs to his boss. In other settings it is not considered stealing to infringe on someone else's time, however it is included under the Torah injunction, "You shall not cheat your friend."2

A prevalent example of this is "butting" ahead of someone else in line. The halachah recognizes the right of someone to maintain his position in line, and by going in front of him or asking someone else on line to take care of something for you, you are infringing on that right. If however, the person has some extenuating circumstance, e.g. he is an ill or elderly person, or he will incur a large loss of money because of the wait, it is proper to let him go to the front of the line, although one is not obligated to do so.3

Similarly, it is permitted to ask someone else to take care of an errand before that person gets in line. Since there is no set rule about how long each person is allotted, he is not considered to have infringed on anyone's rights. However even this has its limits, and one should not take up an unreasonable amount of time. It is unfair for other people in the line to have to wait while one person takes care of the needs of numerous people.4

Countless opportunities arise each day in which people can show that they value their friend's time. If a person makes an appointment with someone else, it is a true sign of concern for them to show up at the scheduled time. The Chazon Ish once disbanded a minyan when he heard that it would cause one of the members of the minyan to be late for an appointment.5 Another common situation is returning an item to its proper place, especially when it concerns books of Torah in a Beith Medrash.6The principle to remember in every situation is that if it would bother you to have to spend your time in such a way, you should not expect others to have to do so.7


1 Seforno on Bereshith 33:14.
2 Vayikra 25:17.
3 Meiri on Sanhedrin 32b.
4 Mishpatei HaTorah 1:84.
5 Brought in MiDevar Sheker Tirchak 143.
6 Kriana D'Igrassa 2:59.
7 Pithchei Choshen 9:13:30.


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

The Usual Suspects
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Golden Opportunities
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

ArtScroll

Shabbos Hosting
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Striving to Succeed
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

Shabbos Chazon
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Our Father, Our Light
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

It's Not What You Want - But How You Ask
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

To See or Not to See - That is the Question
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In a Month We Call -“Av”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Constantly Challenged
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

The Purpose of the Fifth Book
Shlomo Katz - 5767

> And So The Journey Continues
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

The World Within
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

A Hopeful Mourning
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

What Are We Mourning on the Ninth of Av
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information