This was sent to me by someone I recently met who is in the process of becoming religious. These questions are pretty tough for me, but at the same time they are great to get FFb’s like me to think about things which we mostly just take for granted.
1) It says in the section on moral and ethical rules which a person should accept that you should associate with Torah scholars.
What determines if a person is considered a “Torah scholar”?
2) “The person who glorifies himself in his neighbor’s shame, even though his neighbor is not present and the humiliation has not reached him, and even if he has not actually insulted him, but only compared his own good deeds and his own wisdom with the good deeds or wisdom of his neighbor, so that from his statement he will be rated an honorable man and his neighbor as a despicable person, [this person] has no share in the World to Come unless he repents with perfect repentance.”
That’s pretty hardcore. And what is “perfect repentance”?
3) In the section that says you shouldn’t hate a fellow-Jew in your heart… it says “If the offender regtrets it and asks you to forgive him, you should forgive him and not be harsh…” You “should” forgive him? You don’t have to? (It doesn’t say “must”).
4) In the same section, it says to hate those who mislead and entice people to abandon the Torah and follow false doctrines? Does this mean hate Christians? No, right, because they don’t seduce Jews into following false doctrines… They don’t really recruit… But hey, what about Jews for Jesus? Does this mean that we should HATE Jews for Jesus?
The quote comes from the end of chapter 16 in Avos de Rabbi Nasan, which says “What is meant by ‘hatred of the people’?” It conveys this thought: “A person should not think of saying “I will love the scholars but hate the students, I will love the students but hate the unlearned. Rather, you should love them all, but hate the heretics, and those who mislead and entice people, [to abandon the Torah and follow ffalse doctrines], and also [hate] the informers.”
5) It says you cannot pray for Divine punishment against anyone who has done you wrong if your grievance could be settled in an earthly court. So this means that during WWII, the Jews could pray for Divine punishment against Hitler?
It also says “There are some authorities who hold that even if his case cannot be settled in an earthly court, he is not permitted to pray for Divine judgment against him, unless he first lets him know [that he intends to do so].”
If you’re a Jew in WWII, how do you tell Hitler this when you’re in a camp and hes G-d-knows-where?
6) Does “a mitzvah” just mean a good deed in general? It says to bring someone back to the right path if you see them “following a wrongful course” is a mitzvah. Can really obscure things be mitzvahs? Or does a mitzvah just mean something good?
7) “Anyone who has the opportunity to protest [against a sinful act] and does not speak out in protest, will be held responsible for that very sin, because he could have protested.” That’s pretty hardcore…
What if it endangers your life to talk out about the sin?
OH! the next section: This applies only in a case when the sinner will listen to you. When you know he will not pay attention, then you are forbidden to admonish him.
8) “Be careful to not do anything that might arouse suspicion that you committed a sin.” (paraphrased)
in my Shabbos-not-to-do book, it says don’t have laundry hanging up during Shabbos because it makes it seem like you might have done it during Shabbos and thus committed a sin. Is this why?
9) “Pious people don’t accept gifts.” (paraphrased)
So the Rebbe wouldn’t have accepted a gift?
Does that make you more pious if you refuse to take your Winter-holidays-bonus from work or something?