Sanhedrin 11a: Embarrassing Someone Who Smells Bad

Sanhedrin 11a: Rebbi was sitting and delivering a shiur, when he smelled garlic. He said, “Whoever ate garlic should leave.” Rabbi Chiya got up and left, and then everyone got up and left. The next morning, Rabbi Shimon son of Rebbi met Rabbi Chiya and said to him, “Are you the one who annoyed my father?” He replied, “Such a thing should not happen in Israel.”

 סנהדרין יא ע”א. כי הא דיתיב רבי וקא דריש, והריח ריח שום, אמר: מי שאכל שום ־ יצאִ, עמד רבי חייא ויצא. עמדו כולן ויצאו. בשחר מצאו רבי שמעון ברבי לרבי חייא, אמר ליה: אתה הוא שציערת לאבא? אמר לו: לא תהא כזאת בישראלִ

There was a daf yomi shiur in the city of Bat Yam at 5:30 PM, and one day a local butcher came in to attend the shiur, straight from the meat market, his hands and clothing stinking from meat. The stench was so powerful that no one was able to learn. The maggid shiur’s question was: should he approach the man and ask him to take a shower and change before coming, and the shiur would be scheduled a little later, or should they just cancel the whole shiur?

From this Gemara, it seems that Rebbi held it is permitted to embarrass the smelly person, while Rabbi Chiya held to cancel the shiur. But when they asked Rabbi Ahron Leib Shteinman, his reply was in this case, even according to Rebbi it would be wrong to embarrass him. Because in Rebbi’s case, who asked him to eat garlic right before the shiur? But here, the butcher was smelly because of his job and had no choice. Furthermore, if we embarrass him, who knows if we’ll ever see him again. Therefore, better to cancel the whole shiur. 9

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