I have two examples. This starts with an answer from a recent question I asked, where it was mentioned that the Rosh was careful to wash last so that he shouldn't avoid talking or waiting between netila and hamotzi.
In this case, the Rosh was ensuring his own spiritual well being at the inevitable expense of others. I am not being chutzpadik, I am genuinely asking: is there some explanation of why this was his decision? Perhaps my reasoning is wrong, and he was actually trying to set an example, knowing that people watched his actions because he was...well... the Rosh.
The second case is a personal experience I once had whereby I was davening shacharit in a minyan led by a great, authentic Mekubal. He was particular that nobody would daven within a huge radius around him during Shmona Esrei, and set up a barricade of chairs to prevent people from entering that space.
I was planning a long davening that day, and I didn't want to inconvenience someone in front of me from being able to take their 3 steps back. I, being very absent-minded, started migrating to the front after standing, and ended up crossing that boundary. After he had already said the bracha of גָּאַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, he spotted me and came and pushed me out of the boundary, and then returned and began עמידה. I remember being very embarrased, and I have always wondered if keeping that particular stringency that he took upon himself was more important than embarrassing someone.
So, with these two examples in mind, the question in the title is asked.
A couple of bonus questions, that I will turn into their own questions if someone could comment that they are good questions (they may be non-starters):
- Would we say that the Rosh was choosing a personal stringency over a halacha, given that it seems to be that halacha states that the most important person should wash first (perhaps he didn't hold by this halacha)
- Would we say that this Mekubal was keeping a mystical practice at the expense of halacha (hefsek bein geula l'tfila, and embarrassing someone in public)?