A compliment (or, r”l, an insult) vs a mere statement of fact?

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    It’s generally considered good manners to thank someone who has said something nice about you in your presence. But, are all positive statements considered compliments necessarily deserving of thanks?

    Is the distinguishing factor that the statement be opinion or observation rather than mere fact?

    So, is telling someone I like his tie a compliment because there’s no objective measure for taste or fashion? Contrast that with saying someone is tall, an accountant or a rebbe in a well-respected yeshiva, etc. which would unlikely elicit thanks.

    Things get even trickier in the realm of insult; it seems that even parve-sounding comments can require mechilah. For example, being tall may be a positive attribute for a man, but might be a sensitive issue for a young woman.


    Why is being tall a positive attribute for a man?


    Because then he can reach all the high shelves.


    And clean ceiling fan blades


    Because then his wife can look up to him and it just matches, as she is meant to look up to him (assuming he earns it)


    Joseph: The navi (Shmuel I, 9:2) lists Shaul HaMelech’s height among his enviable traits that merited him the malchus, though one could argue that the navi is merely being metaphorical using terms of appearance to connote praiseworthy middos. That’s not to say that both attributions didn’t apply. It just raises the question of why employ a metaphor at all?


    @blublu because when someone is truly something spiritually it even permeates their physical reality. Like Rachel being described as beautiful -what did physical beauty have to do with being one of the imahos? Rather, she was so spiritually beautiful and atzaddekes, as all our imahos were besides for leah who was at the level of a baalas teshuva, that their beauty radiated and was reflected even physically. Same with the daughters of asher marrying cohanim gedolim. And same with Shaul hamelech – his physical height reflected his spiritual height


    “as all our imahos were besides for leah who was at the level of a baalas teshuva,”
    I don’t understand this- you are saying that Leah was not a tzadekes because she was a BT?
    How was she different from her sister Rochel who grew up in the same home as she did? Or for that matter Rivka, who came from a similar background, and Rashi refers to as a tzadekes bas rasha? And what does it mean to be a BT in that time before Matan Torah when they were only obligated in 7 mitzvos bnei noach, and taryag was intuitive?
    Other than the passuk stating that her eyes were rakos, which we can understand as being red, swollen from crying, why would you conclude that it means she was not beautiful?


    What she said was, “…a tzaddekes, as all our Imahos were, besides for Leah,
    who was at the level of a baalas teshuva.”

    I think she was referring to Chazal’s statement about baalei teshuva achieving
    a higher level than tzaddikim (“b’makom she’baalei teshuva oimdim…”), and her
    statement was presumably based on Chabad teachings. (She was using
    “baal(as) teshuvah” in the classic sense, not the modern one, and she
    did not mean to imply that Leah was not beautiful.)


    Her words imply that Leah was not a tzadekes because she was a BT. Even assuming she was referring to that chazal, it was a strange wording.
    I have no doubt that her statement is based on chabad teachings. But why single Leah out? The rest of my questions still stand- why just Leah?
    If you go back a couple more words in the quote, the “besides for Leah” also goes back on the “so spiritually beautiful” statement.
    CS, can you answer my questions?


    Yeah sure. Leahs beauty was marred because she cried so much, veinei Leah rakos. She was different than Rochel, Rochel was destined to marry Yaakov and as he was an Ish Tam, she was a tzaddekes from the beginning.

    Leah was meant to marry Esav as she had a special ability to transform him -Dina inherited that ability which was why she went out to try to convert /educate the daughters of shechem. As Rashi says, kima kbita she was like her mother who had this incredible power to transform reshaim to tzaddikim. Which is also why Yaakov was punished for withholding her from Esav. Because she could also have caused him to do teshuva.

    However, leah understandably did not want to marry Esa, and cried and begged Hashem to allow her to marry Yaakov. Even though she was not his true zivug she succeeded in her tefillos and through her constant tefillos elevated herself through humility and avoda to marry Yaakov. So she had the bitterness of a baal teshuva which is why her beauty did not radiate as much as Rachel s did.

    Of course it goes without mention that as she worked so hard on herself, her spiritual level was even higher than Rachel . She merited to have half the shevatim and ended up being the wife that Yaakov spent most of his life with.

    Non Political

    “I don’t understand this- you are saying that Leah was not a tzadekes because she was a BT?
    How was she different from her sister Rochel who grew up in the same home as she did?“

    There is the “Tzadik Gamur” and the “Baal Teshuva” This does not end with Rachel and Leah it is a theme that continues through the unique Avodah of the Bnai Rachel and Bnai Leah (Yosef and Yehuda) down to Shaul and Dovid and beyond (ultimately to Mashiach Ben Yossef and Machiach Ben Dovid. I recently read a nice work elaborating on this subject.


    @non political would love to hear more on the unique avoda etc.


    That explanation makes sense, as long as you are not using the terms tzadekes and baalas teshuva the way we normally use them. Rather you are using BT to mean she transformed her essence.
    Here’s some more:
    Eisav and Yaakov were supposed to be partners- with Eisav focusing on the material, and Yaakov on the spiritual, Eisav supporting Yaakov’s learning. Leah was meant for Eisav, since both were the oldest, and as the bechor, Eisav/Leah would have gotten a double portion of the shevatim- 8, with Yaakov having 4 to complete the 12 shevatim. When Eisav sold his bechora to Yaakov, Eisav rejected his role, and Yaakov had to take over Eisav’s task- hence he got the gashmi brochos from Yitzchak, He also got to marry Leah, who still was zoche to 8 of the shevatim. So Leah marrying Yaakov was not just about her changing, but also about Yaakov changing and taking on a task originally meant for Eisav, for which Leah was most fit.


    @WTP fascinating!! Where did you learn that?


    @Nonpolitical, what “nice work” was that? I’d love to read it, too.

    , I believe it’s from Maharal.
    Nice to have a thread about Torah!


    CS: It’s based on the Chasam Sofer, but the idea was developed in a sefer in press that I had a sneak preview of- it’s called One Nation, I guess it will hit the bookstores in a few months. Interesting that it was the women who saw reality and acted to change things: While Yitzchak was hoping that Eisav the Ish Sadeh would be able to use his materialistic nature for good, to serve his purpose of supporting Yaakov the Yoshev Ohalim, Rivka realized it was not to be- she understood Eisav’s true nature, and therefore orchestrated that Yaakov would get the Brocho that should have been Eisav’s- the material good in the world, because only he would know how to use that properly, and that he would need to be able to support himself since Eisav refused the job. Leah also saw through Eisav and realized he could not fulfill his intended task, her response was crying and tefilla that she should not be fated to Eisav, but rather to Yaakov.
    BY the way, when I said 8 shevatim and 4 shevatim I was referring to the sons each had herself and from her shifcha.

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