Parshas Devarim - Love your Neighbor
by Rabbi Dovid Green
It's always healthy to take stock. To review past accomplishments positive
and the inevitable, negative. Though we always try to set our sights ahead
to be able to achieve, one needs on occasion, to look back to examine where
we came from so as to direct us (or redirect us) to where we want to go. A
This week's portion contains a review of the accomplishments both positive
and negative, of the Jewish people from the time of the exodus from Egypt
till they were about to enter the holy land. A new era was about to begin.
Moshe needed to give the necessary direction to the people he would soon be
taking leave of. How would he insure that it would received in the most
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin explains in his book Love Your Neighbor this
important factor in human relations as shown in the Torah.
"MOSHE SPOKE TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL...AFTER HE HAD SMITTEN SICHON KING
OF THE AMORITES, WHO DWELT IN CHESHBON, AND OG, THE KING OF BASHAN, WHO
DWELT IN ASHTASROS AT EDREI" (Devarim 1:3,4)
The sages teach that here when Moshe "spoke" to the Jewish People, it was
words of rebuke. Rebuke is most effective when it can be perceived as being
sincere. The Torah emphasizes that Moshe rebuked the Jewish people _after_
he had smitten Sichon and Og. Moshe reasoned, that if he rebuked them
before they entered at least _part_ of the land, they might wonder what
their leader had against them and what good he had done for them since "it
must be that he does not have the power to bring us into the land". Moshe
therefore waited until after he had conquered part of the land before
giving the necessary rebuke. (a paraphrasing of Rashi)
"Had the people felt that Moshe's rebuke was insincere and that he had
ulterior motives, his words would have been ineffective. A person will only
accept rebuke if he feels that the rebuker has his best interest in mind."
"We also see from here that timing is a major factor in rebuke. In many
instances by waiting for an opportune time to deliver admonition, a person
will be more successful than he would have been had he admonished earlier."
Each attempt at communication and helpful well-timed direction will bring
multiple results we might not have imagined! The ripple effect, we are
taught is called "mitzvah goreres mitzvah" - one mitzvah creates (the
opportunity for) another mitzvah". May we all cultivate healthy peaceful
relationships with others!