44 - Flattering a Sinner part 2

A separate application of this halacha arises with a completely different scenario. Frequently when a person who is guilty of certain prohibitions committed in public comes to shul, they expect to be granted traditional shul honors.

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:  Speak up constructively to correct a wrong you observe. 

Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.

Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #44




A separate application of this halacha arises with a completely different scenario.  Frequently when a person who is guilty of certain prohibitions committed in public comes to shul, they expect to be granted traditional shul honors.  For example, a supporter of a certain yeshiva who is a kohen married to a divorcee, a halachically prohibited marriage, or one who shaves with a razor, may come to the yeshiva for his righteous grandfather’s yahrzeit.  While he should not be honored with the first aliya l’Torah, he can be given the honor of opening the aron kodesh.  

As long as his transgression of shaving with a razor is not discussed, there is no need to protest the sin or rebuke him about it, since such tochacha will be damaging and certainly have no effect.  The hanhala should be careful not to praise him in a way that would imply approval of this transgression, but can certainly praise his good deeds, including his support of Torah, as well as praising his grandfather.

(Excerpted from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)

Story(based on a true story)

The four months between my engagement and my wedding were a whirlwind, but here we were, only a couple of weeks away, and almost everything was done.  I was talking to my chassan while flipping through the response cards when he said, “Now that we basically know who’s coming, we need to finalize the kibbudim.”

We went through it all--sheva brochos under the chuppa, at benching, and different sets of witnesses.  We each knew our families best.  He had his rabbanim and I had mine, and then we discussed friends and family.  We were moving along smoothly until I mentioned my great-uncle Mottel for one of the sheva brochos under the chuppa.  

“We can only have people who are careful with the halachos of Shabbbos for the brachos and the witnesses,” he said.

I was floored.  Uncle Mottel was the patriarch of the family, the one we all looked to on my father’s side.  True, he wasn’t careful about the halachos of Shabbos, but he grew up in an observant home before the war, and since then had lived a traditional life that was dedicated to family and basic religious values.  He always had a “Gut yontif” for you on his way out of shul, even if he was driving home to watch the game.  

“Sorry,” my chosson said.  “I know Uncle Mottel is great, but this is how it needs to be.”

I took this proclamation home to my father, expecting an uproar about the sanctity of family.  But my father understood.  He said that while he didn’t know if it was a halacha here, he understood the concept and still wanted to find a way to make Uncle Mottel feel special and important.  So we set about finding a solution.  

After a few hours, it was my mother who came up with the idea:  we would give Uncle Mottel the kibud of reading the kesuva under the chuppa.  It was a kibbud given to a very important rav at my parents’ own wedding, involved having his name announced under the chuppa, and gave him a way to be fully involved.  He was, after all, a wonderful man who had done much in his life for which to be honored.  But this particular honor was not one with halachik implications.  

Uncle Mottel accepted his honor with joy, and read the kesuba to all the assembled with an authentic Old Country pronunciation, a shaking voice, and tears in his eyes.  He stood tall and proud and not at all slighted, and blessed us to have a wonderful Yiddishe household.  

Discussion Question Options:

In what types of situations might we need to flatter a known rasha?  Under what circumstances might we even be allowed to compliment his misdeeds?

How might flattering or showing honor to someone who sins in public cause harm?

How does the prohibition of flattery relate to the severity and frequency of the sin, and to the extent to which he has been educated in mitzvos?

Stretch of the Week:

Compliment a positive aspect of a person who has made a halachic mistake, while avoiding agreement with the mistake itself.


Stretch Of The Week