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A Gentle Rebuke

A Gentle Rebuke

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We think we need to be crystal-clear. We discipline our children, elaborating on exactly what they have done wrong, and then reiterate it to ensure that they never repeat the same crime again.

But we might consider tempering our clarity just a bit. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses rebukes the Jews before he dies. But instead of articulating a drawn-out account of all the Jews’ sins, Moses employs euphemisms to refer to their mistakes. And his euphemisms even imply an understanding of the circumstances that led to their blunders.

For example, Moses refers to a place called Di Zahav, or “Enough Gold,” a place that does not actually exist. The name alludes to a time when the Jews had more gold than was good for them—a reference to the sin of the Golden Calf. What they did with the gold was blasphemous, yet Moses brings it up in a roundabout way without going into detail about what they did wrong. While his words serve as a rebuke and reminder not to repeat the sin, they also advocate on the Jews’ behalf, suggesting that they only sinned because they had an excess of gold.

Out of respect for the Jews, Moses chastised them lightly, yet effectively.

And they got the hint.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will discipline my children respectfully, focusing less on a playback of their exact wrongs, and more on what’s expected for the future.

(Adapted from Shulchan Shabbat: Devarim, p. 32, and Likkutei Sichot, vol. 14, p. 1)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
Artwork by Yoram Raanan.
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