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May 08, 1992 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-05-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TORAH PORTION

Commemorating both the glory and the pain
of our Spanish Jewish ancestors

Adat Shalom Synagogue

Torah Encourages
Constructive Criticism

invites the community to be our guests at a musical experience
featuring playwright and raconteur Dan Almagor
and Israel's "First Lady of the Musical Theater," Rivka Raz

RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT

Special to The Jewish News

C

in

"Sepharad 1992"

Sunday, May 17

7:30 p.m.

cepharad 1992 is designed for the whole family. Tickets are available at
the Mat Shalom Synagogue office, 29901 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills.
The program is sponsored by the Synagogue's Adult Study Commission. There
is no charge. For further information, please call 851 5100.

-

Rabbi Efry Spectre • Rabbi Elliot Pachter • Cantor Larry Vieder • Cantor Howard Glantz



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Elegant new lobby, Elevators & Guestrooms

Miniature golf • Paddle tennis • Olympic pool • Childrens' pool &
playground • Entertainment • Tea room • Synagogue

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46

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 1992

4,0 14 MILE 120.

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riticism is regarded by
Jewish tradition as a
virtue not a vice. It is,
in fact, a full biblical corn-
mandment, one of the 613
mitzvot. In this week's por-
tion we read: "Thou shall not
hate thy brother in thy heart,
hocheyach tochiach et
amitecha — thou shall surely
rebuke thy neighbor — and
not bear in because of him"
(Leviticus 19:17).
The Torah teaches that the
inevitable criticism we have
of others needs to be express-
ed. It is far better for them
and for us to express
legitimate criticism and ar-
ticulate the rebuke than to re-
main silent, apathetic and
unconcerned.
Indeed, not only is criticism
one of the important com-
mandments, but it is one of
the • main functions of our
religion. Torah was meant to
raise our ideals, values and
practices to an ever higher
level. This is done by serving
as our critic, by focusing our
attention on the distance bet-
ween the ideal and, the real,
by revealing to us our im-
perfections and thus urging
us to strive for the perfect.
That is why the pulpit, too,
must not only be a source of
inspiration and education,
but even more so: criticism. It
may at times be annoying,
even painful. But if our
human and Jewish imperfec-
tions are hidden behind a veil
of innocuous platitudes, then
the voice of Torah has been
silenced. The great Talmudic
sage Abaya once remarked,
"that if a rabbi is beloved by
his people it is often not
because of his superiority as
because of the fact that he
diplomatically refrains from
every kind of criticism"
(Ketubot 105b).
But this is not an easy task
for rabbis or for laymen. The
practice of tochacha or
criticism in the spirit of Torah
is a most difficult exercise. It
is painful to be criticized,
especially when we realize
that the reproach is justified.
It is even more difficult to
rebuke a friend in the proper
manner without malice or
moral superiority.
How revealing that in an
age far richer in greatness
and nobility than ours, the
Talmudic sage Rabbi Tarphon
remarked, "I wonder if there

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of
Congregation B'nai David.

is anyone left in this genera-
tion who knows how to take
criticism" — and Rabbi Elazor
ben Azariah replied, "I would
be more surprised to find so-
meone left in this generation
who knows how to give
criticism" (Erachin 16b).
If my only purpose in
criticizing you is to seem big-
ger in comparison, to be cruel
and not critical, then my
words of criticism are a sin,
not a mitzvah. For then, in-
stead of observing the Torah's
injunction of constructive
criticism, I have violated the
principle of hamablin pnei
chavero, the insulting of
another human being.
True criticism, teaches the
philosopher-poet Yehudah
Halevi, is such ,that you

Shabbat
Kedoshim:
Leviticus
19:1-20:27
Amos 9:7-15

reprove with the intent to im-
prove — in other words:
teshuvah, repentance or
moral growth, must always be
the goal of criticism. The no-
ble aim of rebuke from a
Torah perspective can be
achieved only if it is given in
a spirit of profound friendship
with love and loyalty. The
recipient of your criticism
must be amitecha, your dear
friend, and you must give it
with such sensitivity, without
causing pain and embarrass-
ment. ❑

-I SYNAGOGUES Immo

Birmingham Temple
Slates Lecture

The Birmingham Temple
will present the fourth an-
nual Shorr Memorial Lecture
8:30 p.m. May 11 at the
temple.
This year Richard Cohen,
syndicated columnist of the
Washington Post, will speak
on "The Politics of Freedom
in America." A panel con-
sisting of Harry Cook, Detroit
Free Press; Howard Simon,
ACLU; and Carol King, presi-
dent of the Michigan Abor-
tion Rights Action League,
will question him after his
talk. A discussion will follow.
There is a charge.

When mankind desires to
create something big it must
reach down deep into the
reservoir of its past.
—Wilhelm Stekel

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