[This rather long excerpt illustrates the complexity of the hierarchy of the kavodsystem]Isaac b. Shila said in R. Mattena’s name in the name of R. Hisda: ‘If a father renounces his kavod, it is renounced; but if a rabbi renounces his kavod, it is not renounced.’ R. Joseph ruled: ‘Even if a rabbi renounces his kavod, it is renounced, for it is said: “Adonai went before them by day.” [Ex. 13:21—God serves as the guide for the Israelites, thus renouncing God’s own kavod by leading the way] “How can you compare [God to the rabbi]? There [in the example with God], it’s God’s world and God’s Torah–[in which case] God can suspend His kavod. Here [in the example of the rabbi], is the Torah his [that he can do as he pleases]?” Later Rava said, ‘The Torah is his, as it is written: “And in his Torah will he rejoice, day and night.”’ [Ps. 1:2]
But that is not so. For Rava was serving drink at his son’s wedding, and when he offered a cup to R. Papa and R. Huna son of R. Joshua, they stood up before him [and let him serve them, thereby allowing him to renounce his kavod and wait on them] But [when he offered] R. Mari and R. Phineas son of R. Hisda, they did not stand up before him [and thereby did not allow him to renounce his kavod]. Thereupon he was offended and exclaimed: ‘Are these rabbis and the others not!’ [That is, why do these rabbis allow him to suspend his kavod while the others do not?]……
Ashi said: Even on the view that if a rabbi renounces his kavod it is renounced, yet if a nasi [president of the sanhedrin] renounces his kavod, his renunciation is invalid. An objection is raised: It once happened that R. Eliezar, R. Joshua and R. Zadok were reclining at a banquet of Rabban Gamaliel’s son, while Rabban Gamaliel was standing over them and serving drink. When he offered a cup to R. Eliezer, he did not accept it but when he offered it to R. Joshua, he did. Said R. Eliezer to him, “What is this Joshua? We should sit while Rabban Gamliel the great stands and serves us?” R. Joshua said to him, “We find one greater [than Rabban Gamliel] who served–Abraham was greater and he served [others]. Abraham was the greatest of his generation and it is written about him: ‘And he stood over them [serving the three men who happened upon him in the desert] …’ (Gen. 18:8) Perhaps you will say that these men appeared to him to be ministering angels [and that is why he served them and thus, did not really suspend his kavod since they were greater than he]? No! They looked only like Arabs to him! And [you argue that] the great Rabban Gamliel cannot stand and serve drinks to us?”
Tsadok said to them: “How long are you all going to renounce the kavod of God while busying yourself with kevod habriyot? [i.e. Here you are bringing Abraham in as an example of one who suspends his honor by serving an inferior when you could have used God for proof!] If the Holy One of Blessing causes the winds to blow and the clouds to form and brings forth rain and causes the earth to bloom and arranges a table before each and every person, cannot the great Rabban Gamliel stand and serve drinks to us?
“Now, if he [R. Ashi] said anything, he said as follows: Said R. Ashi, ‘Even the one who argues that a nasi who suspends his kavod, his kavod is suspended, [would agree that] a king who suspends his kavod, his kavod is not suspended.’ (Kid. 32a,b)
“R. Judah—others state, R. Nehemiah—said: ‘One must not cause himself to vomit in the street, out of kavod.’Our Rabbis taught: ‘If one searches his garments for lice [on the Sabbath] he may press [the vermin] and throw it away, providing that he does not kill it [since killing animals is forbidden on Shabbat].’
Abba Saul said: ‘He must take and throw it away, providing that be does not press it.’ R. Huna said, ‘The halachah is, he may press and throw it away, and that is his kavod, even on weekdays.’
Rabbah killed them, and R. Shesheth killed them. Rava threw them into a basin of water. R. Nahman said to his daughters, ‘Kill them and let me hear the sound of the hated ones.’” (Shabbat 12a)