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Thursday, Menachem Av 7, 5779 / August 8, 2019


Parshat Devarim, which will be read this Shabbat, is always read on the Shabbat before the fast of the ninth of Av, or on the ninth of Av, when it falls on Shabbat, as this year.


In Parshat Devarim, which Moshe began saying on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, six weeks before his passing, he rebukes the people of Israel for all their negative behavior during the past forty years.


The Parsha begins, “These are the words which Moshe spoke to all of Israel…” Very few times do we find in the Torah the expression that Moshe spoke to all of Israel. There has to be a reason and lesson why the Torah found it necessary to tell us this.


Our sages explain that rebuking someone for their misdeeds in order to make sure that they behave properly from now on, is a mitzvah. However, one must do it in such a way that the person should not be embarrassed, especially not in public. Embarrassing someone in public is one of the gravest sins.


In fact, the destruction of the Second Temple, for which we mourn during this time, and why weddings are not performed during these days, came about as a result of someone being embarrassed in public and no one stood up to reprimand the one who did the embarrassing.


This is why Moshe, before reprimanding the Jewish people, made sure that everyone was there, so that no one individually will be embarrassed. It was a collective rebuking. The Torah tells us that Moshe spoke to ALL of Israel, although some of the things which he rebukes them for were not committed by everyone. But this way no one individual will be embarrassed.


Our sages say that shaming someone in public is in a way like taking that persons life. As the saying goes, that when a person is embarrassed they want to bury themselves.


The lesson here is that when we see someone doing something wrong, even when we have to make them aware of it, we have to be very careful how we do it, so as not to cause them embarrassment.


The famous Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Levi of Barditchev, once came into the synagogue and saw a Maggid (a preacher) giving a sermon, as was common in those days. The Magid rebuked the people and detailed many of the sins which the people may have done. He told them how G-d was angry at them and that G-d will punish them for all their sins. He went on and on scaring the people by detailing the harsh punishments they may endure if they don’t repent.


Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, who was known for his tremendous love for every Jew, sinner and non sinner alike, couldn’t take it. He said to the Magid, “It is not fair what you’re doing.. Now that you have rebuked the people for their sins, it is time that you direct your words at G-d for all the suffering of the Jewish people. It is time that you rebuke G-d for allowing that His people suffer so much...”




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