Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Kind of Pilpul

Rav Aharon of Belz, zt”l, was exceedingly careful to always judge every Jew favorably. He once explained why while attending a rabbinic conference. “If you encounter a difficult Rambam what do you do? Surely you work on it until you find a way to explain it. The same should hold true when you encounter a Jew who acts in a way that is difficult to understand. You must work and work until you find a way to excuse his behavior.
“My grandfather, Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz, zt”l, explained that for this reason he preferred to learn pilpul. This discipline provides the necessary tools to find a way to give every Jew the benefit of the doubt.”
On another occasion he explained more thoroughly, “A Jew must feel as if he is the hired advocate of his fellow. Just like an advocate does his utmost to defend his client from any accusation and certainly sees no evil in his client, so too every Jew must search and search until he finds a way to see only good no matter what he sees or hears about a fellow Jew.”
Once, at his tisch, the name of a certain person was called signifying that he should approach the rebbe for shirayim. For some reason this man did not come when called. Despite the insult, since the man surely heard his name called, the rebbe immediately defended him in a very creative manner. “In Avoda Zarah 66 we find a machlokes which we can apply to shirayiim and explain why this man has not come forward. Those who come forward hold that the main thing at the tisch is the טעם taste, so they must take what is offered and eat it. But if we hold that the main thing is the name, it is enough that we called his name!”

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