There is an old Chassidic tale of a Rebbe who was with his wife in his study, when a complainant burst in and told the Rebbe his side of a fight. After giving his version of what happened, he was relieved to hear the Rebbe say, “You know, you’re right.” He left, vindicated. A few moments later, the other party to the fight came running in and gave his version of the story. The Rebbe heard it, thought and declared, “You know, you’re right.” After the second man had left, the Rebbetzin burst out, “they can’t be both right.” To which the Rebbe smiled and said, “You are also right.”
That story happened long before Dale Carnegie ever wrote his stellar How to Win Friends and Influence People that outlined how important it is to validate everyone’s sense of rightness.
When raising kids, however, you sometimes find yourself doing the opposite. You know those times you walk into the room and everyone is fighting. Eventually, after trying to sort it all out, you come to the conclusion, all the kids are wrong. They picked at each other, annoyed each other and reacted to each other. Siblings, it ain’t easy to keep the peace among them. “He started it,” “she continued it,” and, of course, “but she hit and I didn’t.” You realize that to every fight there are different shades and sides of wrong.
In this week’s Torah Portion, Parshas Vayigash (Perek Mem-Hay, first verse) we learn that Yosef throws out everyone from the room before revealing his identity to his brothers. Rashi explains that Yosef did not want to have the Egyptians see his brothers’ humiliation. We have to make sure, that even when we have to rebuke someone, it should NOT be done B’farhesya [in public] – we should do it privately and not cause a public disgrace to the person. Yelling “shiksa” at a non-modest woman is NOT the way, even if you believe she needs to be rebuked. It is quite clear from Rashi.
Yet, the other side is wrong, too. I saw this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gjicqi4WQk&feature=youtu.be and I see the aspiring politician Dov Lipman orchestrating a photo op to show Chareidim in a bad light, and he does it blatantly trying to annoy and get a rise out of the Chareidi men. Lipman is trying to gain political power by creating discord.
Some little girl I know sits outside of her brother’s room every morning and chants, “I’m watching you, I see you, I’m spying on you.” Then she goes running, screaming blue murder when he charges out of his room and whops her. “Mommy, he hit me and I didn’t do anything.”
So, in the sorry affairs going on in my beloved land, as the Chassidic rabbi said, “you are also right” to each side.
And both are also wrong for making a public display of ugliness and sibling rivalry a focus of the world.
And both sides are so totally immature it is beyond comprehension.
regarding learning that Rashi this week: I had just reread Reb Shlomo:The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, in which is recounted the words of Rabbi Mordechai Nadvorner, who had said, ‘you can find the Ribbono Shel Olam in Chumash with Rashi.’ I then had a conversation with someone who is seeking out how to live life fully right and in accordance with G-d’s will and she was asking why some folks weren’t becoming paragons of what humankind ought to look like — and I had to point out to her that most folks don’t go through Chumash and Rashi week by week, searching out how to change themselves for the better. Ah, if only everyone involved in the broohaha in Israel had read this week’s Parshas and seen the reconciliation of Yosef and his brothers, wow, what a difference that would make.
And, if you understand Hebrew, this is a MUST song to hear (listen to the words and let it penetrate!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7JumLJWSU4&feature=related. The chorus goes “both of us are children of G-d…and together to our Creator we should daven.”