Thursday, July 03, 2014

To Every Thing There is a Season, and a Time to Every Purpose Under the Heaven

My parents raised me to believe that one must take the feelings of others into account when speaking and doing things.  Before you open your mouth to speak, think about how the message is going to be received on the other end.  Is this the right thing to say -- and, if it is, is it the right time/place to say it?

I'd be lying if I said that I always lived up to that ideal.  There are times when I've said things that did hurt others.  While I can't remember saying things that were intentionally meant to hurt others, there were things that were said that, in retrospect, should not have been said -- or at least not when I said them.  As Shlomo taught us, there is a time and a place for everything.  There is a time to speak, and there is a time to be silent.

Yesterday -- just a day after the three murdered teens in Israel were buried, Aron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, launched into a speech where he placed the blame for the murder of the teens on their parents.  He stated that the community is required to state that the parents are guilty for the deaths of their sons and that they must do teshuva for living in such an unsafe area.

One of the hallmarks of a Jew, the Talmud teaches us, is that they are compassionate (Yevamos 79a).  They take the feelings of others into account.  They do not inflict unnecessary pain and, when pain must be inflicted, it is kept to a minimum.

I understand (even if I don't agree) with the Satmar Rebbe's position vis-a-vis the legitimacy of the State of Israel.  I understand his positions (again, even if I don't agree) regarding living in certain places.  But there is a time and a place for your personal theology and in the faces of grieving parents a day after they bury their children is not it.

It doesn't matter if the Satmar Rebbe is right or wrong regarding his hashkafah.  Let's say, just for the sake of argument that he is correct.  It doesn't matter.  Let him save his comments for another day.  If a parent is (God forbid) sitting shiva for a child who died in a bicycle accident, the shiva house is not the time or place for a lecture about the rules of the road.  If someone loses a child (God forbid) in a car accident, you don't say to them at the shiva house "See, I told  you they should always wear seat belts!"  To do so is to just pour salt into the already festering wound.   There is a time and a place and a way to talk of these things, but in a fiery speech on the day after the burial is not it.  Save it for another day, another venue and another form.

May the families of the teens be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

The Wolf