Friday, October 17, 2008

Lulav and Proper Rebuke

The Torah’s term for a Lulav, “kapos temarim”, is defined by a process of elimination. Abaye rejects the proposition that the kufra, a lulav whose spine and leaves have hardened somewhat and been rendered prickly, can be used for the arba minim.
Rav Yissachar Dov of Belz, zt”l, was always careful to infuse all his interactions with other Jews with genuine love. He felt that the only effective way to reach out to estranged Jews and draw them back to Torah observance is through gentle and pleasant re-direction and education. However, one of the Belzer Rebbe’s most prominent chassidim was known to be a terrible kapdan, a harshly judgmental person.
One day, the Rebbe approached this chassid and tried to explain the error of his ways. “Abaye’s proof that the arba minim cannot include the lulav in its prickly kufra state is based on the verse, ‘The Torah’s ways are pleasant, and all her paths are peace.’ (Mishlei 3:17)”
The Rebbe explained, “This means that even the most beautiful lulav is disqualified if it pricks! Kal v’chomer that we should avoid jabbing at others in righteous indignation with painfully sharp words. Quite the contrary; the only way to achieve Hashem’s purpose is through gentle and loving persuasion.”
Sometimes, however, even gentle methods fail to bring positive results. Rav Naftali Amsterdam, zt”l, once asked his mentor, Rav Yisroel Salanter, zt”l, how to overcome the natural tendency to become frustrated when a wayward Jew refuses to accept moral correction.
Rav Yisroel answered, “Chazal said that the words of a person with fear of heaven are heard. This means that if the person offering gentle rebuke is being ignored, the one doing the talking must lack yiras shomayim. Why, then, should he be frustrated with his friend? Let the speaker instead direct his anger toward himself for lacking the requisite fear of heaven!”

2 comments:

A True Breslover said...

Rabbi Frankfurter wrote a piece in the Succos edition of Mishpacha on Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's understanding of happiness which is simply breathtakingly beautiful. I wonder where he was all this time, since he's a true pro.

Anonymous said...

I read the article and it is quite interesting as it raises a lot of issues. His view of the Rebbe's understanding of happiness as being intertwined with melancholy is right on target.