We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chusim for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Pick one person to gently help guide in improving their spiritual growth. Remind yourself that this should be a selfless act and is a chessed.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #9
PART 3 - Different Types of Aveiros/Limits of the Obligation
In both mitzvos between man and his fellow man and those between man and HaShem the mitzva of tochacha applies. In the case of bain adam l’chaveiro, if one person wrongs another, the wronged party should not hold in his anger and foster hatred toward the wrongdoer; that is the way of the resha’im, and is a violation of the halacha of lo sisna. Instead, he should inform the other person of his dissatisfaction, and say, “why did you do such and such and sin against me in this way?” This open rebuke gives the person a chance to explain himself if applicable, and to apologize if necessary, clearing the air and restoring peace between them.
In the case of a transgression bein adam LaMakom, we have an equal obligation to speak up, since every Jew should feel responsible not only for his own spiritual success but for that of other Jews as well. Therefore, if we see another Jew sinning against HaShem or slipping off the derech, we are obligated to explain to him what he is doing wrong and to help him get back onto the right path.
The extent of our obligation can be seen from the following halacha: A person who is capable of protesting against wrongdoing and does not do so is held responsible and is heavenly punished for that aveira, even if he himself is a complete tzaddik. For example, if he can object to a transgression that was committed in his household, in his city or even in the entire world (if he is a person of repute whose words are widely heeded), and he remains silent, he will be held accountable for those sins! (Mishpetei HaShalom 9:9-10, 18)
Sometimes, there is an obligation to speak up in order to protest the chillul HaShem caused by someone’s actions or to prevent others from being drawn after their ways. This is especially important in a situation where remaining silent might be interpreted as agreement with the wrongdoing – “if so and so didn’t say anything, it must be all right.” Often, peaceful demonstrations are organized for this reason even when no practical results are expected to emerge from them; in such a situation the protest serves to express our own disapproval of the sin and to discourage others from being pulled in that direction.
Today, when many sinners have not intentionally rejected the way of Torah but are merely ignorant of their heritage, or misinformed, there certainly is great merit in introducing them to the mitzvos and allowing them to taste of the Torah’s nectar; in many cases, that is all the “rebuke” they will need in order to begin a process of correcting their ways. (Mishpetei HaShalom 9:7-8, 26-27)
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
In this day and age moral sensitivities are at an all time low so I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of many neighbors to our local protest. Apparently, a new chain store was scheduled to open and planned to use extremely immodest photos in their storefront window. Some of the people in our shul were outraged and decided to organize a meeting to discuss the appropriate course of action to take in this matter. Many people questioned those who would have the chutzpa to protest against the advertising of a popular women’s clothing chain. Although this store is known for its inappropriate publicity (in an area predominantly populated with women who underrate modesty), we believed we had a mission.
There were other contenders who felt that if a community doesn’t take responsibility for the potential moral decay, especially when it’s near your family, who will?
Personally, I was stuck in the middle. I empathized with the individuals who believed in a free state – allowing anyone to do anything they want without protest. It did seem ridiculous for a bunch of religious Jews from the local shul to stand in front of a store and protest its advertising campaign. What would we accomplish in the end besides looking like a bunch of crazy fanatics? Nevertheless, the protest took place and surprisingly, was extremely well attended, not only by the members of our shul but by the non-Jewish and non-religious neighbors as well. There were men shouting “Protect our neighborhood!” and women holding signs which read “Why expose our children to this?” It attracted media attention and my worst fears never materialized. I thought that by standing up for our values, we would be laughed at and scorned. Instead I witnessed people who respected our convictions and valued our input. I even heard one woman blurt out “It’s about time someone stood up for this! Everyone is so worried about being politically correct that they lose their core values!” This was stated by a woman who was not one of the members of our shul. Even though I didn’t take such an active role in this particular situation, it provided me with a great lesson in self-esteem and hopefully the courage to stand up for what’s right in the future.
Discussion Question Options:
If you saw an individual or group of people breaking halacha, would you have the courage to talk to them about it? Why or why not?
When should we “mind our own business” and when should we step in and get involved?
When someone is making a mistake out of ignorance and we know we have the knowledge to help them, how can we overcome our inhibitions so we can help them?
Stretch of the Week:
Think about a problem or issue you would like to help correct and make one phone call about it this week.