Dvar Torah: Kedoshim – Proof for Reproof

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    Kedoshim 2 – Proof for Reproof:
    לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא
    You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and you shall not bear a sin because of him (Vayikra 19:17).
    I have always enjoyed reading the commentators’ disparate interpretations of this pasuk, each one offering admonition, along with guidance, for self-improvement and a happier life. The Ramban, Rashbam, and Ohr HaChaim explain that the pasuk is addressing one of our worst enemies, the resentment we carry in our hearts.
    Along these lines, we can add a common scenario. Often, when wronged, a person does not react in a negative fashion, but keeps the feelings in his heart. This can lead to resentment, which can fester and grow until a true relationship can no longer be maintained. Therefore, the Torah tells us, “Lo sisna es achicha bilvavecha – You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” How can this be achieved? “Hochei’ach tochiach es amisecha – You shall reprove your fellow.”
    As the Ramban writes, talk to him; share with him your grievance. The person will either explain that there was no harm intended, or he will acknowledge that he is at fault for causing pain, and he will apologize.
    Now that the smoldering resentment is gone, the relationship can then continue. Hence, the end of the pasuk says, “Ve’lo sisa alav cheit – And you shall not bear sin because of him.” If you had not been open about the issue and worked it out, the resentment could have caused a full-blown machlokes, where you would surely bear a sin.
    According to the Kli Yakar, the pasuk is saying that in order to fulfill “Hochei’ach tochiach es amisecha,” to give constructive criticism to your friend, you must not harbor hatred in your heart against him: “Lo sisna es achicha bilvavecha.”The prerequisite to giving reproof is love.
    We learn the same thing about Hashem; because He loves us, He reprimands us, so that we will improve our ways: “Ki es asher ye’ehav Hashem yochiach – For Hashem admonishes the one He loves” (Mishlei 3:12).
    Only if you love another person will you be willing to point out his sins. If I hate someone, not only may I be apathetic about his behavior and not give him constructive criticism, but I may even flatter him and encourage his wrongdoing, with the full awareness that these sins will lead to his punishment and ultimate downfall.
    Therefore, the pasuk says: Excise the hatred you feel toward him from your heart, so that you will be willing to help him improve, by giving him reproof.
    We learn from the Kli Yakar that the person who flatters my misbehavior may actually hate me, while the one who is giving constructive tochachah must love and care about me, and is really helping me, no matter how painful it may seem at the time. This sentiment is expressed so beautifully in Chapter 29 of Avos De’Rabbi Nassan: “You have some friends who rebuke you and some who praise you. Love the one who rebukes you and hate the one who praises you. For the one who rebukes you will bring you to the World to Come, but the one who praises you will remove you from the world.”
    How should we give this reproof? According to Rashi, the end of the pasuk, “Ve’lo sisa alav cheit – And you shall not bear a sin because of him,” is telling us that although we must give reproof, it has to be done in a way in which we “do not a bear sin because of him.” We cannot embarrass him in public – thereby committing a sin of our own – just to get him to stop sinning.
    So how can we make our reproof effective? Aside from speaking to the sinner in private, the words themselves must lead not to embarrassment but to acceptance.
    Rav Simchah Zissel, the Alter of Kelm, gives us another tip. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 31a) tells us that one has to give tochachah over and over, even 100 times. Rav Simchah Zissel explains that the Gemara is telling us not to pour out all of our mussar at once. Rather, we may need to tell a person about his mistakes and sins in bite-sized portions, even 100 small parts, so that the admonishment will be easier to digest.
    The Kli Yakar brings another important point. The last phrase of “Ve’lo sisa alav cheit” is telling us that if we fail to give tochachah when we are able to, then we bear the other person’s sin, since we have a responsibility toward every other Jew: “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh – All Jews are cosigners for one another” (Shavuos 39a).
    This concept is expressed very strongly in the following Gemara (Shabbos 54b): “Whoever can prevent the people of his household from committing a sin but doesn’t is punished for the sins of his household. If he can prevent his townspeople from sinning and he doesn’t, he is punished for their sins. And if he could have prevented the whole world from sinning and he didn’t, he is punished for the sins of the whole world.”
    We do not live in a vacuum. One Jew’s actions impact every other Jew. We can help develop one another, we must care for one another, and we are even held responsible for one another.

    Reb Eliezer

    abukspan, isn’t this a duplicate?


    wow, your right. i only posted it because on the other one that had to do with another aspect of lo sisna and justified hatred, you started mishing in meforshim about tochacha and sina. i just wanted to show you that those unrelated things were something that i was BH well aware of. My mistake for not realizing that i had even put it up. Hope the Mods do not get upset. thank you

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