“There seem to be two extremes today when dealing with rebellious youth. One is to force them to toe the line or get out, and the other is to show them only love and acceptance, never reprimanding. In certain cases, each of these approaches may be correct, but as a rule, they’re both misguided.“
By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier
Shabbos morning, on his way to shul, shortly after moving from Europe to Eretz Yisroel, Reb Elya Lopian turned to the person accompanying him and said, “I’m going back to the house. It’s making me sick to see so many Yidden being mechalel Shabbos. I simply can’t continue walking the streets.”
Just then, a taxi pulled up next to them and the unassuming driver asked, “Kvod harav, can you please tell me how to get to merkaz ha’ir?” Reb Elya looked at the driver and said softly, “My dear Yid, today is Shabbos, how can I tell you how to do something that’s chilul Shabbos? On the other hand, I never reject an opportunity to help another Yid!” With that, Reb Elya broke out in a bitter sob.
The shocked driver got out of his car and, overcome with emotion, said to Reb Elya, “When I began to break Shabbos, my parents came down really hard on me, driving me away from home and from Yiddishkeit. But I see that to you both Shabbos and I are dear.” He left his car on the side of the road and walked to shul with Reb Elya.
In this week’s sedra we’re given a mitzvah that can only be fulfilled with hatred:
“If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden, would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help him.”
But how can a Yid even have an enemy when the Torah clearly commands: “Do not hate your brother in your heart”?
The Rambam explains:
“…this refers to a person who sees a colleague violate a transgression and rebukes him, but the colleague did not cease transgressing. In such an instance, it is a mitzvah to hate the person until he repents and abandons his wickedness.”
What a conundrum! I’m commanded to have compassion and help the very person I’m supposed to hate.
Reb Meir Arik (famed Galician rosh yeshivah of the previous generation), writes that the only way to understand this is with the words of the Alter Rebbe in chapter 32 of Tanya:
“As for the Talmudic statement to the effect that one who sees his friend sinning should hate him and should tell his teacher to hate him also… there still remains the duty to love them also, and both are right: hatred, because of the wickedness in them; and love, on account of the aspect of the hidden good in them, which is the Divine spark in them, which animates their divine soul. He should also awaken pity in his heart for [the divine soul], for she is held captive, as it were, in the evil of the sitra achra that triumphs over her in wicked people. Compassion destroys hatred and awakens love.’”
You love the person and are appalled by their behavior. The more you love the person, the more disturbed you are by their behavior and the more compassion you have for them.
And the more compassion you show, the more likely they are to correct their ways.
There seem to be two extremes today when dealing with rebellious youth. One is to force them to toe the line or get out, and the other is to show them only love and acceptance, never reprimanding. In certain cases, each of these approaches may be correct, but as a rule, they’re both misguided.
The Torah teaches us that the more we love someone, the more we’ll care that they do what’s right and good according to the Torah. And as Reb Elya shows, when a Yid gets a clear and strong message that we love them unconditionally but categorically reject their wrong behaviors, there’s a good chance they’ll respect, trust, and follow us.
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