Parshas Pinchas-Likkutei Sichos-The arrogance of belittling the good work of others

Parshas Pinchas

Not to belittle the good activities of others

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 8 Sicha 1)

This week’s Parsha, Parshas Pinchas, begins with praising Pinchas for having extinguished the wrath of G-d from culminating the Jewish people in a plague, by Pinchas being zealous on G-d’s behalf and assassinating Zimri and Kozbi. Prior to mentioning this praise, the verse in Scripture describes the lineage of Pinchas, informing us that Pinchas was the son of Elazar who in turn was the son of Aaron the Kohen. Rashi in his commentary addresses the necessity for Scripture to inform us of this information of the lineage of Pinchas which we were already aware of, and seems completely superfluous. Rashi explains that the reason Scripture felt necessary to repeat the lineage of Pinchas is because after Pinchas killed Zimri, the Jewish people began belittling Pinchas for having done so, claiming that he was an evil and cruel person who came from improper lineage. Thus, Scripture repeats his righteous lineage to negate this claim. In this talk the Rebbe analyzes the exact claim that the Jewish people had against Pinchas, the improper lineage that he was claimed to have been associated with and guilty of inheriting that character traits from, as well as the reason that tribes of Israel felt it necessary to belittle the actions of Pinchas. The analysis on this subject brings out a tremendous lesson regarding how we should look at others and their righteous activities, and how we need to avoid allowing ourselves to belittle them with the accusation of false and improper motivations.

 

Explorations of the Sicha:

1.      How did the Jewish people react to the assassination of Zimri by Pinchas, were they supportive or in opposition of what he did?

2.      What improper character traits were found amongst the ancestors of Pinchas, and what association did he have with them?

3.      Why did no one other than Pinchas choose to kill Zimri for his sinful actions?

4.      Is it okay to ridicule someone’s good and positive actions if it appears that they’re doing so for ulterior and improper motives?

 

1. The Shevatim ridicule Pinchas for having killed Zimri:

On the words[1] “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest,” Rashi comments: “Being that the tribes were belittling Pinchas by saying have you seen this descendent of a fattener, as his mother’s father [i.e. Yisro] had fattened calves for idolatry, this person has now gone ahead and murdered the prince/leader of a tribe of Israel. For this reason, Scripture now comes and writes his lineage after Aaron.” This commentary of Rashi is based on the Talmud[2] and Midrash.[3]

The lineage of Pinchas:

To understand this commentary a little better we must first introduce the lineage of Pinchas. The father of Pinchas was Elazar the son of Aaron Hakohen. The mother of Pinchas, and the wife of Elazar, was the daughter of Yisro.[4] Hence, while the paternal grandfather of Pinchas was Aaron Hakohen who was a very righteous individual, his maternal grandfather was a convert who prior to his conversion was a leading priest for idolatry. After the assassination of Zimri, many Israelites decided to belittle Pinchas for what he did by belittling his lineage, saying that he takes after his maternal grandfather, Yisro, who has a history of idolatry. Scripture, however, now testifies that in truth Pinchas took after his paternal grandfather, Aaron Hakohen, and that is assassination of Zimri was a good thing for which he is to be praised. We will now address what necessitated Rashi to make this comment at this point in Scripture, when it is well known that Rashi does not bring Talmudic or Midrashic commentary unless it is coming to answer a difficulty in the verse.

 

What was bothering Rashi that necessitated this comment?

The reason that Rashi felt necessary to make this comment on the above words is because Rashi was challenged with the fact that we were already made aware of the lineage of Pinchas in only a first few verses prior. In the end of Parshas Balak, where the episode of Pinchas and Zimri is recorded, the verse[5] states, “and Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest saw [what Zimri was doing].” Accordingly, Rashi in his commentary came to answer the wonderment of the common reader who would question why this matter needed to be repeated. To this question, Rashi answers that it is coming to respond to the Israelites who were slandering Pinchas for being of invalid lineage, and therefore the verse emphasizes that in truth his lineage was very righteous and holy.

2. The six questions on the commentary of Rashi:

There are several questions that can be raised on the commentary of Rashi, keeping in mind that Rashi’s main purpose in his commentary is only to answer the difficulty in Scripture and therefore he does not add superfluous information in his commentary:

  • On what basis does Rashi claim that all of the tribes belittled Pinchas? Why does Rashi conclude that the entire Jewish people belittled Pinchas, and not just the tribe of Shimon to whom Zimry served as their leader? Seemingly, there is no reason to assume that the other tribes sided against Pinchas for what he did. On the contrary, Scripture[6] states that the Jewish people came crying to Moshe to do something about the actions of Zimry and the plague that ensued due to it, as explained in the end of Parshas Balak, and hence one can assume that the rest of the tribes of Israel were very happy and supportive of the actions of Pinchas. Furthermore, the Sifri[7] explicitly states it was the tribe of Shimon who belittled Pinchas. Why then does Rashi assume that all the tribes of Israel disputed the actions of Pinchas and belittled him for having bad lineage?
  • Why didn’t they mention the more severe sins of Yisro? The Midrash[8] states, as Rashi[9] records, that Yisro had worshiped every idolatry in the world, and was a priest for idolatry. Why then would the tribes choose to belittle Yisro simply with the sin that he would fatten calves for idolatry, and omit the much stronger belittlement, which is that his maternal grandfather Yisro was the biggest idol worshiper in the world.
  • Why does Rashi have to mention that Yisro was the maternal grandfather of Pinchas, when we all know this to be the case, and Rashi could have simply said his grandfather?
  • Rashi emphasizes in his commentary that the verse is coming to attribute the lineage of Pinchas after Aaron. Now, why does it not suffice to simply attribute his lineage after his father Elazar who was also a very righteous man, and why does Rashi completely omit him from the lineage?
  • Why does Rashi omit the fact that Aaron was a priest when attributing the lineage of Pinchas to Aaron, despite the fact that Scripture itself mentions this?
  • What was the purpose of belittling his lineage? The entire idea that the tribes chose to belittle the lineage of Pinchas for his murder of Zimri is perplexing. If the tribes believe that Pinchas was unjustified in killing Zimri, then they should’ve called him a murderer and leave his lineage alone. Is not the fact that he murdered a prince amongst Israel much worse than the fact that he had a grandfather who fattened calves for idolatry? Now, if in truth the tribes agreed with the actions of Pinchas and justified his murdering of Zimri as a necessity, then why did they belittle his lineage at all?

3. The Shevatim ridiculed Pinchas to defend the honor of Moshe and the Jewish people:

We will begin with first answering the sixth and last question on the commentary of Rashi. The reason why all of the tribes of Israel belittled Pinchas is in order to protect the honor of their leader Moshe, as well as the honor of the rest of the Jewish people. You see, when Zimri brought the Midianite woman in front of Moses and the rest of the Jewish people and confronted them with his sin claiming that there is nothing wrong with what he’s doing, nobody did anything about the situation, neither Moshe, nor the rest of Israel. The only individual amongst the entire Israel who decided to take action was Pinchas. Certainly, there were many learned Jews who were equally aware of the law which permits a zealous individual to kill a Jew who is publicly performing forbidden relations with a Gentile. When Moses taught this law, it was in the presence of all the Jewish people, as Pinchas did not merit to have private learning sessions with Moses, and was rather included amongst all the Jewish people when Moses taught them Torah. Hence, we must accept that there were many Jews were aware of this law that Pinchas acted upon. Accordingly, by Pinchas being the only one willing to stand up and act on it, and be a zealot for G-d, is a great affront and shame to all the Jewish people, including Moshe, making it seem that they are not zealous enough for G-d’s honor and Torah. Accordingly, the tribes of Israel belittled Pinchas in order to protect the honor of their leader Moshe as well as the honor of the rest of the Jewish people. We will now discuss the specifics of their belittlement and why they chose to belittle the lineage of Pinchas.

4. The reason the Jewish people ridiculed the lineage of Pinchas with the fact his grandfather fattened calves for idolatry:

Being that the entire purpose of the Jewish people in their belittlement of Pinchas was to defend and protect their honor and the honor of their leader Moses, therefore, it is for this reason that they decided to belittle Pinchas specifically with his blemished lineage. By doing so, they were in essence claiming that the zealousness of Pinchas was not purely due to his love of G-d and zealousness for G-d’s honor, but also due to his personality which is inclined to cruelty and spilling of blood, which was inherited from his blemished ancestor.

Yisro, the maternal grandfather of Pinchas, had not just offered calves to idolatry, but would purposely fatten them for this purpose of then slaughtering them, which is an act of cruelty. [It is similar to cannibals who feed their victims much food, so they become fattened for the sake of then slaughtering and eating them. This is a much greater cruelty than simply the act of murder alone.] Thus, the tribes claimed that since the paternal grandfather of Pinchas had such an intense inclination towards cruelty, it is only natural that his grandson Pinchas inherited this inclination of cruelty as well. It is for this reason, they claimed, that specifically Pinchas, from amongst all the Jewish people, was willing to assassinate Zimri out of his vengeance for G-d’s honor, as only he inherited such a level of cruelty in his inclination. However, Moshe and the rest of the Jewish people have a disposition of kindness and mercy and therefore did not volunteer to carry out the law of vengeance and zealousness to murder the perpetrator. This claim of the tribes also contains halachic basis, as the Rambam[10] rules that we do not appoint a person with a cruel nature to the Sanhedrin, even if he is very learned and wise, as due to his cruel nature he may lean the judgment towards severity and an unwarranted verdict of guilt. By the Jewish people making this claim, they cleansed themselves and Moses from any fault of complacency, and lack of zealousness for G-d’s honor.

The reason Rashi brings that all of the tribes belittled Pinchas:

Based on the above, we can understand why Rashi chose to explain in his commentary that all the Jewish people belitteled Pinchas, and not just the tribe of Shimon, as the purpose of this belittlement was not to defend Zimri, but to protect their own honor and the honor of their leader Moses in which there is no difference between them and the tribe of Shimon.

5. The reason Rashi emphasizes that Pinchas killed a leader:

Based on the above, we can also understand why Rashi emphasizes that the tribes belittled Pinchas for killing a leader amongst Israel, as by emphasizing the heroic acts of leadership of the murder victim one emphasizes the level of cruelty involved in his murder.

Zimri was a true merciful leader acting in defense of his tribe:

Zimri had acted with true leadership for his tribe, trying to defend them and protect them from punishment. When the Jewish people began sinning with the Midianite women, Hashem told Moshe to gather the leaders and have the violators hung in front of the sun. Moshe then instructed the leaders to kill those who attached to Peor. Now, multitudes of the tribe of Shimon were guilty of sinning with the Midianite women, and the verdict of putting the transgressors to death was mainly aimed against their tribe. They therefore came to Zimri, begging him to do something on their behalf and save them from having the verdict of death carried out on them. As an act of true leadership and love for his tribe, Zimri decided to take action and likewise sin with a Midianite woman to prove that it is not considered such a sin that is deserving of death, and that even Moses was guilty of the sin as he himself had married a Midianite woman. Zimri, who most likely was aware of the law that permitted a zealot to kill him in the act, was willing to put his own life in danger for the sake of protecting his tribe.

Emphasizing the contrast between a kind and merciful individual versus a cruel individual:

It is for the above reason that the tribes emphasize the leadership position of Zimri in their statement of belittlement of Pinchas, as by doing so it contrasts a person with a cruel disposition like Pinchas to a person with a kind and merciful disposition like Zimri, and hence highlights the cruelty of Pinchas in killing such a kind and merciful individual.

6. Cruel people have a personal hate and vengeance against nice people:

A further and deeper explanation behind why the tribes emphasized the leadership position of Zimri is to psychologically explain the choice of Pinchas to express his cruel nature specifically with murdering Zimri.

We tend to think that a person of exceptional kindness and compassion is received equally well by all people, and is loved and accepted by all. This is not true. It is the nature of cruel people to act with cruelty towards anyone and everyone, including people who are kind. Furthermore, their hate and cruelty is even more intense towards kind people. This is because the kind person is the exact opposite in nature of the cruel person, and therefore the cruel person is unable to contain him in his worldview, and therefore treats him with extra cruelty even more than a regular person.

For this reason, the tribes emphasize in their belittling statement against Pinchas, that Pinchas had killed a leader amongst Israel, to emphasize that the inclination of cruelty which Pinchas inherited from his maternal grandfather was specifically expressed in his murder of Zimri, as Zimri had the exact opposite disposition being inclined towards mercy and love, and it is the nature of the cruel to have a special vengeance against the kind.

7. Why the fact that Yisro was the maternal grandfather of Pinchas was emphasized:

Earlier we asked as to why it was necessary for Rashi, and the tribes, to emphasize that Yisro was the maternal grandfather of Pinchas, and why it did not suffice to simply state that he was his grandfather. The explanation is as follows: The Jewish people were clearly aware of the illustrious and righteous lineage of Pinchas from his paternal side. On what basis then did they choose to believe that Pinchas inherited an inclination of cruelty from his maternal ancestor when it is just as possible and likely that he inherited a kind inclination from his paternal side. In other words, there does not seem to be any real legal basis to make a definitive claim that Pinchas inherited bad natures from his maternal grandfather. It is for this reason that Rashi, and the tribes, emphasized in their claim that Yisro was the maternal grandfather, and did not suffice to simply stating that he was his grandfather. The reason for this is because although a child inherits the dispositions of both his father and mother, a son is more inclined to inherit the disposition of his maternal side. This is based on the saying of the sages[11] that when a woman gives seed first, she gives birth to a male, and therefore a male is more similar to his mother than his father. Hence, according to this tradition of the sages, Pinchas was inclined to inherit the dispositions of his mother more than his father. Now, the sages also state that when a man gives seed first then he has a daughter born to him, hence showing a connection between the mother of Pinchas and her own father Yisro, and that the mother of Pinchas had inherited the cruel dispositions of her father, who she then in turn inherited it to her son Pinchas.

Hence, in order to bring evidence to the claim that Pinchas had inherited the cruel disposition found in his maternal side, the tribes emphasized the fact that Yisro was his maternal grandfather.

8. G-d’s testimony that Pinchas inherited the qualities of his paternal grandfather:

We will now address the response of G-d, to the claims of the tribes in their belittlement of Pinchas, as expressed in Scripture.

In Scripture’s repetition of the lineage of Pinchas to his father Elazar and paternal grandfather Aaron the Kohen, Hashem is coming to express the fact that the murder which was committed by Pinchas was not the result of any element of cruelty inherited from his maternal grandfather. Furthermore, on the contrary, it was actually a result of the disposition of kindness that he inherited from his paternal grandfather, Aaron. Aaron was renowned for his peaceful nature, and how he would pursue peace and bring peace amongst people who quarreled.[12] Similarly, his grandson Pinchas desired to bring peace between G-d and the Jewish people in his act of killing Zimri. Hence, not only was the action of Pinchas not considered an act of cruelty, but on the contrary was considered an act of kindness. [The severe sinful actions of Zimri, who was a tribal leader of the Jewish people, threatened all the Jewish people as a whole, and placed their relationship with G-d in jeopardy. After witnessing Zimri in his sinful action, what would stop the rest of the Jewish people from following suit, and causing a great rift between them and G-d. Hence, due to his great disposition towards peace, Pinchas zealously put Zimri to death in order to save the peaceful relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. This is similar to one who courageously puts his life in danger to kill an active shooter who is shooting at random and killing innocent people. While the act of killing a random individual is cruel, the act of killing an active shooter is praiseworthy, and a sign of love and sacrifice for innocent people.]

It is for this reason that Rashi in his commentary omits the lineage of Pinchas to his father Elazar, as the emphasis of Scripture is specifically the fact that he received the kind disposition of his paternal grandfather Aaron who was renowned for his pursuance of peace, and not simply to the fact that he is the descendent of a holy man. It is likewise for this reason the Rashi omits the fact that Aaron was a priest, as this is completely irrelevant to the point of emphasis, which is the personality of Aaron, and not specifically the fact that he was a priest.

9. The true contrast between Zimri and Pinchas:

Later on, in his commentary on the verse[13] describing the lineage of Zimri, Rashi states that while Scripture praises the lineage of Pinchas the righteous, it belittles the lineage of Zimri the Rasha. The claim of the tribes of Israel was that Pinchas acted out of a disposition towards cruelty, while Zimri performed his sin as an act of kindness for his tribe. Thus, the Torah testifies to the contrary, that in truth it was Pinchas who acted with kindness and Zimri who acted with cruelty. The only difference is that Pinchas performed an action of cruelty in order to bring a great kindness, which is peace between G-d and the Jewish people. In contrast, Zimri did an act under the guise of “kindness,” to try to convince the Jewish people that having relations with a Midianite is permitted and should not be punished with death, although in truth was an act of cruelty being that it taught many others to sin. Zimri performed a tremendous act of cruelty which was expressed in a cloak of kindness, while Pinchas performed an act which appeared to be cruel, but was in essence the greatest kindness that could be done.

10. The Divine lesson-Not to belittle the good accomplishments of others:

From the above commentary of Rashi, we can learn a fabulous lesson in our divine service. When a person sees someone doing a positive activity it is forbidden for us to belittle his activity with the claim that he is doing so for ulterior motives. This applies even if we have circumstantial evidence of this being the case. Even if it is true that the person is doing so for ulterior motives, Jewish law teaches us that a person should always study Torah and perform Mitzvos even if he has ulterior motives in doing so, as from “Lo Lishma” one will eventually come to serve G-d altruistically, Lishma.[14] This especially applies according to the Hasidic explanation of the above which states that within the ulterior motives there are also altruistic motives of the individual, and that his ulterior motives are from the external part of the soul while in his inner soul he is doing so for altruistic purposes, and therefore within the “Lo Lishma” there even currently exists a “Lishma.”

Furthermore, another reason why it is forbidden to belittle the good actions of another with the claim that he is doing so for ulterior motives is because doing so may discourage him from doing the action at all. Although certainly one is to do whatever he can to motivate the individual to serve G-d and perform his positive activity for the right purposes, it should not be done in a way that will make him feel like not doing it at all.

However, in truth the main reason for why the belittling of the good actions of another is to be completely negated, is because there is no way for a person to truly know what is in the heart of his friend and why he decides to perform his good activity. Look here at the case of Pinchas in which the entire Jewish people were convinced that he did what he did due to his inheritance of a disposition towards cruelty, while G-d testifies to us in Scripture that this assumption is incorrect, and that he did so out of holy intents.

11. The negation of belittling others even for the sake of expressing Torah and Hasidic values:

Another aspect in this matter that we can learn from the commentary of Rashi is regarding the negation of making the above belittling claim even for altruistic purposes. A personal who belittles the good actions of another with the claim that they are doing so for ulterior motives may convince himself that his belittlement comes from the side of holiness, and needs to be done in order to emphasize the values of Torah and the Hasidic teachings. For example, one may claim that since he has a humble nature, or since the Torah demands humility, therefore he cannot stand it when somebody does something out of arrogance. Thus, when he sees another Jew learning Torah with great enthusiasm, or fulfilling a mitzvah with great detail, in a way that can be interpreted as a form of arrogance, he cannot control himself and must belittle the person and express to others the negative aspects of the individual. From Rashi’s commentary we learn that even when the intent of the belittler is for a holy purpose it is to be negated and not to be done. This is learned from the fact that the tribes belittling of Pinchas was for the sole purpose of protecting and defending the honor of the Jewish people and their leader Moshe, and nonetheless the Torah negates it and says that in truth Pinchas acted correctly for the right reasons. This teaches us that when one belittles the good acts of another with the claim that he is doing so out of arrogance and haughtiness, it is not the person doing the good act who is in the wrong but rather the belittler. He is the righteous one and not to the person belittling him.

Furthermore, it is possible that the belittlers choice to belittle the individual with a claim of arrogance is itself due to his own arrogance. Maybe he cannot stand that another person is spiritually higher and greater than him, and he therefore is jealous of him and desires to put him down. This indeed is a clear teaching of the Baal Shem Tov[15], that the evil that one sees in his friend is a mirror image of the evil in his own heart. According to this teaching, the fact that he sees haughtiness and arrogance in the good deeds of his friend is a sign that he himself is guilty of embellishing his own arrogance and haughtiness in garbs of false righteousness and humility. In this respect, he is even worse in the person who he is belittling, as at least that person is doing an action of holiness, while his action of belittling the person due to false claims of humility, is completely unholy. Furthermore, even if his friend’s actions are a result of arrogance, they at least are not done to express his humility, while the belittling claim of the individual under the pretense of humility is itself due to arrogance. [Meaning, that the belittler is much more hypocritical in his expressing of arrogance under the guise of humility, then the person whom he is belittling for being arrogant who at least is not trying to express humility and be hypocritical.]

It is not possible that from Holiness will come a conclusion that is the opposite of truth and opposite of Torah. Hence, since the belittler himself does not learn Torah with enthusiasm to the same level as the person whom he is belittling, and does not follow the dictum of the sages of judging every person favorably, it is a clear proof that his belittling is not coming from a pure place of holiness but rather on the contrary from the side of evil.

If indeed the belittler contains jealousy against the person doing the righteous actions, as it highlights his own deficiencies and lack of divine service, then he should use that to motivate him to learn from his friend and follow in his footsteps, as the sages state, “the jealousy of authors increases wisdom.” If, however, he simply chooses to express his jealousy by belittling the other’s actions and not doing anything to improve himself to follow in his example, then it shows that not only is he guilty of arrogance but that he also contains the character trait of laziness.

12. A lesson regarding Shlichus and Kiruv:

The lesson that we can learn from the above in each generation, and particularly in our generation, is that when we see a Jew being active in influencing other Jews to become closer to G-d and stronger in their Jewish observance, it is forbidden to nullify and belittle him. Even if the activist is not the most righteous himself and is neither the Moses of the generation and nor is he a priest, nonetheless, his actions are not to be belittled. On the contrary, it is specifically his actions that can help stop the spiritual plague of non-observance of the Jewish religion and bring true peace between G-d and the Jewish people, and help usher the true and complete redemption. It is for this reason that we are taught that Pinchas is Eliyahu, to teach us that specifically this activity of being zealous for the sake of G-d will bring the final redemption.

 

Lessons of the Sicha:

In this talk, the Rebbe touched on a very important and pertinent point regarding not to belittle the good work and righteous deeds of others, and especially not do so under the cloak of humility and Hasidic ideologies. Although the lesson from this talk seems to be self-apparent, it is important for us to detail various scenarios in which this lesson needs to be put into practice.

Not to belittle the Torah scholars, and leaders, of other sects: Unfortunately, it is not uncommon among some people, including some “Maggidim and Mashpi’im” during intimate gatherings to belittle and make fun of Torah scholars and leaders of other sects. Usually, this is done under the cloak of piety for the sake of expressing the advantage of their sect of affiliation of Judaism, and of those who study the teachings of their sect. However, in truth, aside for this being a terrible educational example to the audience of how they should behave, and perhaps transgressing the prohibitions against Lashon Hara, Rechilus, and the belittling of a Torah scholar, it is also hypocritical, as it is in truth expressing the belittlers own faults and deficiencies. This especially applies when the person belittles the scholar’s piety, and/or Torah learning which he himself is deficient in. Not to mention, that this type of talk most likely distances Jews of other sects from wanting to study the teachings of their sect after they see how its students behave. If a person wants to express a certain point it can be done in a positive manner without needing to sacrifice the reputation of another Jew whom he seeks to belittle. This idea of not belittling Torah scholars of any sect of Judaism is not unique just to this talk of the Rebbe, but was expressed throughout the generations in the most fierce terms of negation by the Alter Rebbe and Rebbe, as can be found in their letters.

Not to make fun of, and scorn, Misnagdim or other sects of Judaism: It is a common practice of people to put others down for the sake of reassuring themselves of their own righteousness. This is a very wrong practice. Sometimes, however, this is honestly done in order to contrast and make a certain point. However, if there is no need to focus on the deficiencies of other groups of Judaism in order for one to make his point, then he should remain in the positive realm, and express the positive virtues of his position without negating others. Certainly, based on the above Sicha, there is no room to belittle the righteous behaviors of other groups with claims of ulterior motives and lack of proper intents, and on the contrary, one should emulate their good behavior.

Not to belittle someone who is praying enthusiastically or learning assiduously: As pointed out by the Rebbe in the Sicha, belittling another person’s method of enthusiastic prayer or Torah learning is completely wrong, and is the result of the evil and faults found in the person’s own character. A person’s natural inner desire to view himself as better than another, often leads to him belittling the other person’s activities, claiming that they are done for wrong reasons, or even worse, that the person is a “faker” and doing so for attention. Due to all the reasons listed in the above talk, this kind of reaction is to be completely negated, and one should never belittle the righteous activities of another even if he is convinced that the person is doing so for the wrong reasons. Rather, a person should use his inner jealousy of the other persons righteous activities to motivate him to increase in his own righteous activities, and excel in them more than the other person. It is much easier to simply put the other person down, then to actually have to do something to bring yourself up. The Hasidic teachings constantly emphasize the idea of Bittul, which is the utter nullification towards G-d and the negation of Yeishus and self-centeredness. Unfortunately, the animal soul can use this information for the opposite purpose, and instead of it being used for the person to demand from himself a greater and higher level of service of G-d, he uses it to justify his belittlement of the divine service of others, claiming that they are not living up to the demand of Bittul. Chassidus demands Bittul of oneself, and not Bittul Hazulas, the nullification of others.

Not to belittle others who work in Kiruv: It is not uncommon for a person who works in a specific field of occupation to be jealous and belittle the success of others who work in his same field, especially if it is a competitive market. The field of occupation of Kiruv and Shlichus does not escape this common and natural human tendency. From the above talk we learn that one needs to completely avoid belittling the righteous work of others who work in the field of Kiruv, under claims of false motivation such as greed, honor, and fame. All those who work to bring Jews closer to Hashem and successfully do so are to be praised and not judged for even what appears to be clear false motivations. [This of course does not refer to those who use Halachically or philosophically wrong forms of Kiruv, but to those who are doing so in a valid and successful manner but are simply being belittled with claims that they are not altruistic.]

 

To conclude the above with a quote from a letter of the Rebbe Rayatz:[16]

“Every single individual who gives himself over to spread Torah and fear of heaven is beloved onto me and considered my intimate friend. It doesn’t matter what he is teaching the public, whether it be the Talmud and Poskim, or teaching Agadah to simple Jews, or giving motivational Mussar talks before women, so long as he is spreading Torah and good character traits with fear of heaven, he is of my best of friends. This applies irrelevant of his sect affiliation, and irrelevant of the education that he received, and irrelevant of the Yeshiva that he learned it.”

 

The Rebbe Rayatz expressed his deep love and support for any individual who is helping to spread Torah and fear of heaven, whether he is a Lubavitcher, or belongs to another Chassidic group, and whether he is Ashkenazi or a Sephardi, and whether he is Yeshivish, or Dati Leumi, whether he is Litvish, or Misnagid, or Chassidish. Let us all be honest and support all those who are working towards the same goal of spreading G-d’s teachings to the world and help make it a better place, and usher in the final coming of Moshiach.

 

[1] Pinchas 25:11

[2] Sanhedrin 82b

[3] Midrash Raba 21:3

[4] See Sotah 33b; Rashi Shemos 6:25; Yalkut Shimoni Balak 25:6-8

[5] Balak 25:7

[6] See Balak 25:6 and Rashi there

[7] End of Parshas Balak

[8] Tanchuma Shemos 11; Yisro 7; Shemos Raba 1:32; Ramban Shemos 2:16

[9] See Rashi Yisro 18:11

[10] Sanhedrin 2:3

[11] See Rashi Vayigash 46:15

[12] Rashi Chukas 20:29

[13] Pinchas 25:14

[14] See Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 4:3; Pesachim 50b

[15] Toldos Yaakov Yosef Parshas Teruma; See the Sicha printed for Parshas Noach!

[16] Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz 6 p.97

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