Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

RabbiHorowitz.com
Please Use Our New Website
still under constructions
to purchase safety books and educational materials
https://thebrightbeginnings.com

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
iPod
touch
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.


Rabbi Doniel Staum - Parshas Mishpatim 5774 "SELF INFLICTED BLINDNESS"
by Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW

Not Rated Yet   |   Viewed 6542 times since 1/23/14   |   0 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend
   

1/23/14

STAM TORAH

PARSHAS MISHPATIM 5774

SELF INFLICTED BLINDNESS

On one occasion, the Shach[1] had a monetary disagreement with a prominent member of the Vilna community. The man was justifiably concerned to challenge the great Shach in a court where the judges were familiar with the Shach’s legendary erudition and sagacity. The Shach agreed to travel to the court of the tzaddik, Rabbi Avrohom Abba, the Rabbi of the city of Narvadok. Being that the Shach had never met Rabbi Avrohom, the dignitary was confident that Rabbi Avrohom would be impartial and unbiased in his ruling.

Prior to the court-case, the Shach reviewed all the laws and passages in the Talmud pertaining to the case. Based on his own research the Shach was confident that he was correct and that the ruling would unquestionably be in his favor.

After both litigants presented their case, Rabbi Avrohom spent a great deal of time deliberating. When he finally concluded that the dignitary was correct the Shach was stunned. After stating that he unequivocally accepted the ruling, the Shach asked Rabbi Avrohom if he could explain the logic behind his decision. Rabbi Avrohom replied that at first he himself was unsure of the halacha. However, in a halachic compendium recently published he found this exact question discussed, and the ruling was clearly in favor of the other man. When the Shach saw the sefer that Rabbi Avrohom was referring to, he was shocked. It was a copy of Sifesi Kohen, the sefer that he himself had published less than a year prior. The Shach commented that, at that point, he was able to appreciate the wisdom of the sage’s adage “One does not see his own liabilities”[2].

The Torah states: “Do not accept a bribe, for the bribe will blind those who see and corrupt words that are just.[3]” Shulchan Aruch rules, “A judge must be extremely cautious not to accept any bribes, even from the victorious litigant.[4]” S’MA explains that it is impossible for a judge’s opinion not to be swayed to judge in favor of the briber. It is inevitable that a gift of any sort will cloud the logic and rationale of a judge.

In Ta’am Voda’as, Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch shlita relates that a widow once approached Rabbi Yehoshua MiKutna zt’l requesting that he summon a certain individual to court. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she explained that the man had wronged her and should be compelled to compensate her for the losses she incurred on his account.

Rabbi Yehoshua replied that he was unable to preside over her case because her tears had moved him emotionally, and was therefore tantamount to his acceptance of a bribe.

Ta’am Vada’as concludes that a bribe need not be a monetary gift. Anything that may influence a judge’s ruling on any level is included in the prohibition that prohibits a judge from accepting a bribe.

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch zt’l explains, “Bribery kills the intellectual and moral force of the one who receives it… bribery would make even an honest judge, who wishes nothing but what is right and just, not as clear and firm and decisive as he should be in giving expression to what is right. His sight becomes clouded; his word faltering…

“The idea of bribery in the spirit of Jewish law is given the widest extension. Not only money or goods but the smallest most unimportant favor, service or attention, the brushing off of specks of dirt from the coat, the kicking away of a piece of dirt which happens to lie in front of the foot of the judge, etc. has caused the Jewish judge to declare, “I have become unfit to be your judge”.”

The Ba’alei Mussar[5] explain that the blinding effect of bribery manifests in many personal ways. Our own decisions and “rulings” are strongly influenced and tainted by our own emotions and sensitivities. Jealousy, desire, unbridled pursuit of honor, as well as a desire to live like everyone else in society are all examples of deleterious forms of bribery. The inevitable result of all such drives and emotions is the same, “for the bribe will blind those who can see and corrupt words that are just.” The prohibition against bribery accentuates the importance of realizing this dynamic. Our decisions and actions are invariably influenced by our surroundings and penchants.

The greatest peril of personal bribery is that it can lead a person to self-deception. This occurs when one convinces himself that his actions are just and logical. Korach was the prototype of such self-deception. His pursuit for self-aggrandizement and esteem blinded him from recognizing the ineptitude of his challenge to Moshe’s authority and leadership. His downfall was a direct result of his staunch belief that he was correct, and that he was acting nobly for the sake of national welfare.

The Torah’s prohibition against a judge accepting bribery is not limited to the judicial system. It is a warning about the nature of man, who is predisposed to pretext and excuses. He justifies his dereliction to fulfill his responsibilities and spiritual indolence. In order for one to be candid and honest with himself he has to look beyond his negative emotions, drives, and inclinations.

The most challenging self-interest to overcome is intellectual and spiritual inertia. It is far easier for one to consign himself to mediocrity than to challenge himself on a conscious and preconscious level. It is daunting for one to contemplate his spiritual accomplishments and to assess if he has met his own goals and aspirations. However, neglecting to do so is equivalent to accepting the most noxious bribe of all - the bribe of self-inflicted blindness.

The Mishna[6] advises, “Do not judge your friend until you are in his place.” The Mishna is essentially saying that one cannot judge his friend until he is in the same situation, i.e. in his friend’s, “shoes”. Sefas Emes notes that even if someone finds himself in the exact same predicament as his friend and all conditions are equal, he still cannot judge his friend. Although the external situation may be the same, every person has vastly different temperament, emotions, sensitivities, dispositions, inclinations, and fears. One’s life experiences, family upbringing, religious values, personal life’s mission, and sense of morality all have a strong affect upon his decisions and choices. The response one chooses in any situation is strongly (if not primarily) affected by his internal component, far more than the external situation and events. Therefore, even one if one is in the same predicament as another he cannot fully comprehend his friend’s actions in the given situation.

Sefas Emes is deriving a poignant message from the Mishnah. Essentially he is saying that one may never judge another for, “even if he is in his friend’s shoes, he still doesn’t have his friend’s feet”.

The prohibition against bribery is a reminder of how deeply we are affected by our emotions and internality. One must always be wary of the fact that his judgment is somewhat impaired by the bribery of his evil inclination who seeks to corrupt his vision of justice, morality, and accomplishment. Ultimately, every individual is the judge of his own life and is responsible for the decisions he makes.

“Do not judge your friend until you are in his place”

“For the bribe will blind those who see”

Sign up to receive Stam Torah via email each week at:

http://www.stamtorah.info

http://torah.stamtorah.info/view/mosaic



[1] The great halachic authority, Rabbi Shabsi HaKohen of Vilna (1622-1633), is known as the Shach, an acronym for the sefer he authored, Sifsei Kohen. Sifsei Kohen is one of the classic commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch.

[2] Shabbos 119a

[3] Shemos 23:8

[4] Choshen Mishpat 9:1

[5] Master Ethicists

[6] Avos 2:4



To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.


Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:       Not Rated Yet
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at admin@RabbiHorowitz.com and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.



Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593
email: email@kosherjewishparenting.com


Advertisements