By Rabbi Label Lam
Look at three things and you will not come into the grip of sin. What is
above from you? 1) An eye that sees 2) An ear that hears 3) All of your
deeds are written in a book. (Avos 2:1)
Do not abuse one another and should have fear of your G-d, for I am
HASHEM your G-d! (Vayikra 25:17)
Do not abuse one another: Here the Torah cautions us regarding verbal
abuse that one should not annoy his fellow or give him advice that is not
appropriate for him and according to his need or benefit but rather for
the benefit of the one giving the advice. And if you’ll say, “Who knows if
I had wrong intentions when I gave the advice?” That is why it is
written, “You should have fear of your G-d” the One Who knows thoughts, He
knows your intentions. Anything given over to the heart which no one can
recognize except the one in whose heart the thought is, about it is
written, “You should have fear of your G-d!” (Rashi)
This subject has broad implications and daily applications in all business
and personal relationships. The person giving agenda-driven advice may not
even be fully aware of how distorted his opinion has become. Caution is
therefore advisable for recipients and for givers of advice as well.
Besides skeptical vigilance what else does the Torah recommend?
A great Rav was approached with a serious communal matter. The leaders had
informed him about a problem with the butcher. His son had misbehaved in
such a way that it brought about a weakening of their total confidence in
him. He was not worthy of dismissal but there was creeping lack of ease
with his role as the local butcher.
The Rabbi considered well the plight and advised that they seek out a new
position for the butcher in a different town. There he could start fresh
with his dignity intact and they could find for themselves a new butcher.
With painstaking effort they found a new position for the butcher and
presented to him the offer. He went immediately to the Rav to ask his
advice about whether or not to take the new position.
The Rabbi listened carefully and after deliberating the matter decided
that he should not take the new job but should rather stay on as the
butcher. When the communal leaders heard about the Rabbi’s advice they
were outraged and they felt betrayed. When they complained he told
them, “You came and asked for advice about what to do. I gave the best
advice I knew of, to you. When he came and asked me advice I gave the best
advice I knew, for him.”
There was a “reality show” on TV in Israel with the aim of entrapping and
shaming scammers. A hidden-camera was set up in an apartment. Plumbers
were called to fix a non-existent leak in the kitchen sink of some
defenseless elderly women. One plumber after another was caught on film
ratcheting up the problem and the price. Then a Chassidishe plumber was
filmed telling the lady there was absolutely nothing wrong with her sink.
Maybe there was a loose fitting pipe about which he expressed his
willingness to adjust for no cost. The camera crew was amazed and when
they asked him if he knew or suspected that he was on camera, he calmly
and correctly replied, “Of course! The camera is always on!”
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.