To Take or Not to Take Orders in Middle of Seder

Everyone in kollel does everything they can to earn a few bucks outside the kollel check. I was no different. I sold a product that was of interest to my fellow kollel yungeleit and the nearby yeshiva bochurim.

As you can see, I’m in need of a writing tablet.

I don’t know how it was for you, or whether this applies to you at all but I took my learning very seriously and so did my chavrusos. During the zman I’m going to talk about I learnt most of Bava Basra which includes fairly complex property law, inheritance laws, as well as laws of acquisitions and sales. Naturally I didn’t want my little enterprise to interfere with my learning schedule so when I hung up my shingle on the hallway bulletin board I included this message at the bottom:

No orders will be taken during seder under any circumstances

I kept a little order form on me that had a few columns; name of customer, item, brand etc. and people would come over to me any time I wasn’t learning and give me their orders on a slip of paper which I would then transfer over to my order form or they would tell it to me and I would write it down. It seemed like a simple enough system to me and I didn’t think that my stipulation that I not be bothered during seder was an unreasonable one, if for no other reason than simply because I was being paid to learn.
In every yeshiva there’s that guy who, while he’s smart and a masmid and on top of the matzav, there’s still something uppity about him; he may be friendly but in a condescending kind of way. Well it was that guy who took offense at that line on my sign on the bulletin board.
One day – in middle of seder – he approaches me with that slumped-over look and his two hands wringing each other; two unmistakable signs of an anav who thinks nothing of himself and says “can I tell you something?” Who am I to refuse a chashuva yungerman who wants to tell me something?
He proceeds to quote one of the founding Roshei Yeshiva of our venerable institution who said that “sometimes a person thinks they’re doing less bitul toireh by not doing something during seder  when in reality they are distracted because something is one their minds and they would be better off taking care of it and getting back to their learning, I think it’s a little bit geyvah to say ‘under no circumstances’ on your sign.”
I was so shocked I couldn’t open my mouth except to say “uh huh”. As is usually the case; after some time of sitting there letting my blood boil and my heart rate return to normal all the rebuttals in the world came to mind: “what is this guys problem? he’s the one that has something on his mind that he needs to relieve, not me, I won’t be enhancing my learning by relieving whatever’s on his mind!” “I’m the baal geyvah? he’s the one walking around giving out unsolicited advice to people!” and so on and so forth in the manner of one who has been rebuked and has no answer, but I didn’t say any of these things to him.
I was a wimp and he got the last word.

What was your experience?

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