A husband and wife once came to see the renowned Rabbi Gifter, the Rosh Yeshiva of Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland. The wife had a complaint.
“Rabbi,” she said, “I work around the house all day and my husband refuses even to take out the trash. He says as a student of Talmud, it is beneath his dignity. He sits and studies and watches me lug the barrels out to the street. Is there anything in Jewish law that can compel him to help?”
Rabbi Gifter spent some time trying to make peace between the couple. Along the way he explained that no, there was no Jewish law that compelled the husband to take out the trash.
The next day early in the morning, Rabbi Gifter showed up at the couple’s home. The husband, honored by an unexpected visit from the famous rabbi, begged him to come in and have something to eat.
“No,” said Rabbi Gifter, “I haven’t come for a visit. I’ve come to take out the trash.” The husband was perplexed. “You see,” explained the Rabbi, “it may be beneath your dignity, but it is not beneath mine.”
-Rabbi David Wolpe, from “Off the Pulpit, 11/26/09”