Emor: To Rebuke or Not to Rebuke: Is There a Middle Path? 



How should we respond when we see someone do something wrong? Should we give the wrongdoer a piece of our mind? Or should we mind our own business? Should we rebuke or ignore? Fight or accept? What is the best approach to dealing with a child that has misbehaved?

When witnessing a significant wrong, the first inclination of some may be to rebuke the perpetrator, while the first inclination of others may be just the opposite – to ignore the situation. Too much love can spoil someone; too much discipline can demoralize and break the spirit. Some are great at criticism; some never criticize. Which is better? And could there be another way?

Every word in Torah is rich with nuance and profound psychological insight, and in this week’s Torah reading, a single expression in the opening verse provides the answer.

There are three types of rebukers: those that bite, those that overlook and those that heal.

A powerful teaching from the Baal Shem Tov about rebuke, the surprising change of attitude of Lag B’Omer’s hero, the analogy of the shvitz and other anecdotes teach us a novel strategy to dealing with disturbing encounters, and a new — and much needed — approach to education and just plain communication.


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