By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
Is there an obligation to rise before a blind talmid chochom who is unaware you’re standing up for him?
The Torah commands us “vehodarto p’nei zokein – honor the presence of an elder” (Vayikra 19:32), which Chazal (Kidishun 33:b) interpret as referring to a talmid chochom irrespective of his age.
The idea behind the mitzvah is to display honor to Torah by respecting those who study it. Therefore it is applicable not only when the talmid chochom is aware of the honor being accorded to him. Respecting talmidei chachomim is for the benefit of others as well including the person sitting. Therefore poskim write that one is obligated to rise even for a blind talmid chochom.
Conversely, when rising is not a form of honor in a particular setting, such as when one is in the mikveh, there is no obligation to rise.
In other words: there is an obligation on the individual to respect Torah scholars. That chiyuv is unrelated to whether the talmid chochom is aware or not. Hence even when the blind talmid chochom will remain unaware of the honor, the obligation to honor him still rest on the individual.
שו”ת שער אפרים סי’ ע”ח (זולצבאך, תמ”ח), גינת ורדים יו”ד כלל ד סי’ ב, פרח שושן יו”ד כלל ד סי’ א (קושטא תצ”ב), הובאו בברכי יוסף יו”ד סי’ רמד ס”ק ב, ערוך השלחן שם סעי’ ז.
Reprinted with permission from Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com