Here’s the scenario: It’s the week before Pesach. Our Rav is a leading Posek and many people, including the kollel and yeshivah students sell their Chametz through him, and ask a shailoh (question) or two in the process. The line can get quite long. In comes a long time Shul member who catches the corner of the Rav’s eye. The Rav waves him to the front of the line to sell his Chametz.
On one hand the Rav has instituted the policy that dues paying Shul members have priority and the privilege to cut the line. If the Rav waves you to the front, it’s an easier choice, you probably go. If you’re not waved on, should you exercise the privilege of cutting the line? My unscientific observation has been that most people do not cut the line.
Is there anything wrong with cutting the line? Probably not. The Rav is paid by the members of the Shul and he tries to give them priority, which makes sense. And it’s not causing potential embarrassment, like telling someone they’re in your seat. It seems like it should be ok to cut, and after all, the Rav himself instituted the policy.
So why don’t most people cut the line? I think they’re a little embarrassed to execute this privilege. The other people on line probably don’t feel great about it, their time is valuable to them. Perhaps there’s a cultural aversion to line cutting in our cross section of Orthodoxy. Many people use the opportunity to open a sefer, shmooze or just spend some down time. Why risk offending other people when there are other options. It’s a small issue, but it’s the small things that collectively define who we are.
While we’re on the issue of selling Chametz, there is a custom to give the Rabbi a tip at this time. In our middle class neighborhood, it seems that the amounts are in the $20 to $100 range, but ask your friends what the norms are by you.