September 11, 2022

Ketubot 61

Today’s daf (Ketubot 61a) quotes a number of teachings from Rav Yitzchak bar Chananya, including one which states that if a waiter is serving you certain incredibly tasty foods whose aroma is so engaging that people can crave this food to the point of making themselves unwell simply by seeing and smelling it, then as an expression of human sensitivity and concern for the welfare of another, one should offer some of the food to the waiter.
Significantly, this teaching – which is predicated on the fact that the waiter will not have a chance to taste the food later on and thus would not apply if they will (see Biur Halacha OC 169) – is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 169:1). Yet notwithstanding this fact, this rule is generally not observed (see Biur Halacha ibid.) although, as the Piskei Teshuvot notes, if such a situation arises, the waiter should be offered some food.
What we learn from here is that even in transactional relationships we must never be insensitive. Instead, even when paying someone for their services, we must be incredibly considerate towards them.
Yet beyond taking this rule literally, we can also apply it more broadly to Torah & mitzvot, such that if you are performing a mitzvah, you should look around and see whether there are those in the vicinity who do not have what you have but who may be craving what you have. They may see you put on tefillin and not have a pair. They may see you wave the four species and not have their own set. They may be hungry and in need of a meal. And they may be wishing to learn more Torah and are looking for someone to learn with.
And in addition to all this, while our Gemara describes the situation of a waiter seeing, smelling and craving food, we also need to be cognizant of the fact that there are times when our social media posts can lead others to crave what we have, and as such, we should be sensitive when we share what we do, and be generous wherever possible with what we have.
Ultimately, considering the needs of others and sharing what we have – especially when our plate is full – is part of what it means to be a Jew.
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