I am writing about something which terribly pains my heart. Almost every time a tragedy occurs, without fail, there are some people out there who just fire away all types of “prophesies” as to why the tragedy has occurred and who is at fault. I believe this practice is terribly wrong, and may even be quite mean.
I would want to express my pain and hurt at seeing these “prophetic” rebukes, but I’ll try to write more methodically. HaShem has given us a Mitzvah oftochacha– translated as rebuke. When we see someone doing something that runs contrary to HaShems Will, we are commanded to “rebuke” them. It is a Passuk in the Torah “Hochaiach tochiach ess amissecha”.
What is the real definition of tochacha? Is it a free-for-all or does it have Halachos? The Sefer Chareidim says that the route of the word “tochacha” ishochacha– proof! Someone who goes contrary to the Will of HaShem is either unaware that he is doing so, or he is unaware and unclear of its ramifications and the extent of the damage he is causing. The Mitzvah of tochacha, explains the Charaidim, is to prove or enlighten the person to the words of HaShem. Hurting the rebukee or making the rebuker feel “good” through berating others is not mentioned. (In fact, the Sefer Chasidim, quoted by Chofetz Chaim, has some sharp words about such a practice.)
Additionally, there are some clear halachos about rebuke. As a general rule, one may not hurt other people, either physically or emotionally. There are times when we may. There are also times when one may eat on Yom Kippur. I think we would all agree, that when we may, we must be certain that a competent Possaik has been consulted and has also reached these permissible conclusions.
The Gemora in Yevomas 65b declares: “just as it is a Mitzvah to say something that’s heard [accepted] (like the passuk states “Hochaiach tochiach ess amissecha”; Rashi), so too is it a Mitzvah not to say something which is not [accepted]. Rabbe Abbe says chovah,…” http://hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=14&daf=65b&format=pdf
These prophetic comments of “rebuke” and sharp accusations hurled after tragedies will most definitely not be accepted. (Besides, how does anyone even know if they’re on target?) One thing is certain though – they hurt. They hurt the family members. They hurt friends, members of the community and anyone with a caring heart.
I once heard a beautiful vort said by Rav Chaim Stein ZT”L. The Gemora in Shabbos 119b that Yersholaim was destroyed because people did not rebuke each other.
Doesn’t this contradict the Gemora that tells us that the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash (and Yersholaim..) was due to sinas chinam– baseless hatred, which the Chofetz chaim clarifies as being mostly loshen hora? How can the Gemorah now state that it is due to a lack of rebuke? Horav Stein ZT”L answered and explained: rebuke is only effective if it is offered out of care and concern. When there is sinas chinam, people obviously do not care about each other. They either didn’t care enough to rebuke, or even if they would of liked to rebuke, they understood that their rebuke wouldn’t be accepted and therefore refrained from rebuking. But HaShem held them responsible for their lack of successful rebuke since they created the atmosphere in which their rebuke not be accepted (which was through their sinas chinam).
Please, please and please, comment with sensitivity. Comment with concern. And only accuse if you are certain. Chosed biksherim, lokeh begufo. But please, comment out of sincere care.
May we not suffer any more tragedies or pain.
A fellow Jew
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