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Teshuva in Responsa XIV

A Responsum of the Sho’eil U’Meishiv dated 1862 is addressed to Rav Michael Hubner, Rabbi of Nizhnov, where a man had served as a teacher of children for fifteen years. During that time he had become so popular that he was appointed beadle in the synagogue and as a jester at weddings. This man refused to allow any other teacher to settle in the town because he feared the competition.


Rav Hubner, however, as the town Rabbi, protested at the man’s attempt to secure a monopoly, fearing that it would affect the children’s progress.

Further, as town Rabbi, he decreed in a sermon that no children should be given into the care of this man until there was at least one other teacher in the town. Teachers from the neighboring villages, hearing of this, came to settle in the town, but owing to the great popularity of the first teacher, the townsfolk refused to give their children into the care of any other.

So Rav Hubner himself went around collecting a few children for one of the other teachers soon afterwards, the first teacher fell ill and shortly died, and everyone in the town blames Rav Hubner for being instrumental in causing the man’s death. Does he require to do penance?

Rabbi Nathanson refers to previous Responsa that if a man had been indirectly responsible for another man’s death a penance is required, since God would not allow such a thing to happen through a completely innocent man.

True, Rav Hubner did it all out of a high sense of duty, but even if a good man curses a sinner and the sinner dies, a penance is required. Rav Hubner should fast each Monday and Thursday for a whole year. He should also fast each year on the anniversary of the man’s death. If he is too weak to engage in all these fasts he should ‘redeem’ them by giving alms. Then will his sin be pardoned and he need have no anxiety.

Ibid., no 174

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