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Thought for the Day: More on Proper Tochacha

In halacha there is a concept of "tov sh'y'hiy'u shog'gim v'al t'hi'yu meizidim" -- better they should be careless sinners than (by ignoring your reproof) becoming intentional sinners.  How are we to understand that in terms of our mashal to someone bending over a fire?  Certainly even if they will continue their damaging behaviour just to prove a point, I should make every effort to warn them!  Right?

Yes, but with a caveat; an important and serious caveat.  Imagine a slightly different situation: a child playing with a sharp knife.  So if the child is in a good mood and you have a good relationship with him, you can ask for the knife and he will give it to you.  On the other hand, if the child is not in such a good mood right now or does not have a lot of trust in you, yelling at him or even lunging at him could be disastrous.  Even if he is actively hurting himself, you need to tread carefully and not make the situation worse.

That is why giving tochacha is so difficult.  The consequences of doing things wrong are dire.  On the other hand, the consequences of remaining silent/passive are equally dire.  In case it feels overwhelming, just look at your children and think how you would feel if someone took the time to really help them.  Now remember that every single Jew (even the ones that are a little "off" or make us uncomfortable) are HaShem's children.


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