In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Knowing when not to help

By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | He sat across from me and waited for the news I had to give him. I had tried to delay this meeting, but he suspected that the verdict I carried was not good, so he asked to see me straightaway.

Everyone involved in the young man's education agreed that he was a very nice boy. His background had exposed him to some difficult times, but then again that is hardly uncommon. Perhaps he suffered from an exaggerated opinion of his abilities, and that may have been the reason his attendance at rabbinical lectures had been so bad. He could always catch up, couldn't he?

Now his dean, after much worry and thought, had told him he should find a new yeshivah. The boy had asked me to intervene on his behalf and I had done so. He had cried and agonized about what his parents would say when they heard. He agonized about how this would affect his future. He was truly sorry...but he had been truly sorry so many times before.

On hearing the boy's history through the dean's eyes, I could not disagree with his verdict; still, he had, as a kindness to me, agreed to give the boy one more chance. Frankly, neither of us was optimistic about the outcome.

I left the dean and decided that the only way this boy could make it was if I personally took him under my wing, even though I did not teach in his rabbinical seminary. If I were to sit on him and monitor his progress very tightly, then I might be able to help him make the grade and not squander this last opportunity.

Then a memory popped into my mind. Years ago I heard someone who used to be an alcoholic say a startling thing: "If just one more person had tried to help me, I would be dead by now."

He explained that there were always good and kind people who would cover up for his drinking and be willing to give him a second, third, or even fourth chance. When eventually he'd exhausted someone's kindness, he would move on to another person who he thought would help. It was only when he got lucky enough not to find anyone willing to carry him that he was able to confront his real problem. At last he was able to deal with the source of the problem as opposed to the problems that source had created. "Sometimes," he said, "a person has to hit rock bottom before he realizes where he is and what he has to do to climb back up again."

I told this to the seminarian sitting across the table. It echoes the Talmudic sage Hillel's statement in Pirkei Avos, "Im ein ani li mi li? -- If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?" (Avos 1:14).

Rabbi Avraham Grodzensky, zt"l, once said in a lecture that when it comes to dealing with ourselves, we have to be ruthlessly honest. "Kidding ourselves" can never be allowed. In our thoughts, actions, and feelings, we must always apply the measure of Truth. Self-delusion ultimately leads to self-destruction. In dealing with other people, though, such a regime is totally wrong.

Our sages teach that at first G-d thought of making the world only with the attribute of pure truth and strict justice. If someone was guilty of a crime, retribution would follow immediately.

Instead, the Divine created the world also with the attribute of mercy. Someone guilty of a crime would be given time to regret it and remedy it. Only if he failed to do so would more opportunity for repentance. In obeying the Torah's instruction to emulate the Divine's ways, we, too, have to apply mercy while dealing with others' weaknesses even if with ourselves we must insist on truth and strict justice.

However, as Rabbi Grodzensky teaches, sometimes the greatest mercy we can show is by being strict:

Our dealings with others must not apply equal treatment to all. Their positive actions should gain our favor and reward; their negative behavior, our opposition and disdain. It is forbidden for someone to hate others. It is also forbidden to love everyone! The good in people, or the bad we find there, should provoke in us the appropriate response.

When applied to those whose role involves education or parenting, this advice is essential. We cannot be too strict with those we are trying to mold, but sometimes it would be equally tragic to be too lenient. The appropriate treatment involves both medicines, mercy and strictnes; the correct dosages and combination must vary from patient to patient. Rabbeinu Yonah makes this point equally forcefully:

Many people think that the truly saintly do not understand the character makeup of the evil man or his thoughts and nature because they are the exact opposite. That is not so. The verse in Proverbs says, "The truly saintly understand the house of the evil" (Proverbs 21:12). He sees through his deception and fakery and understands his endgame.

Teachers, clergy, and parents cannot be too ruthless with the children they have to guide. Nor can they blind themselves to the nature and personalities of those they have to help.

When Moses heard the extent of the Divine's anger toward Jewry after the sin with the golden calf, he might have thought that there was no hope left at all. But Moses, the educator par excellence, did not think that. There was hope for Jewry, and it lay in the most dramatic action.

Moses would smash G-d's tablets in front of them. Then he would force them to uproot the source of their evil. The calf was destroyed and the element that had attached itself to Jewry and caused them to stray killed. Then Jewry had to address the source of the problem that lay within themselves and repent.

After that, the Divine could tell Moses that they would have a second chance and that the second chance would work.

As I looked into the sad eyes of the rabbinical student who realized that he was enjoying his last chance, I could have smothered him with so much attention that he would have found it almost impossible to slip back into his old ways. But he would only avoid slipping because I was there. The reasons within him that caused him to slip in the first place would not have altered. A greater kindness might be not to offer any help at all and force him to confront his real problem and fight for himself.

Parents, teachers, and clergy can take their cue from the greatest teacher of all and diagnose what treatment will work - the correct combination of mercy and strictness in the right dose. And sometimes this demands that the patient cure himself.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

at a discount by clicking HERE .

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Rabbi YY Rubinstein is a world renowned educator, lecturer, radio broadcaster, and seasoned author whose articles have appeared in Hamodia and other periodicals. His newest book, That's Life: Torah Wisdom and Wit to Live By, published by Targum Press, is available at Jewish bookstores and at www.targum.com .

© 2009, Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein