Parashat Devarim -The lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu!
In this Parashat, Moshe mentions all the places where “am Israel” had to stop momentarily during their journey through the desert.
Why does Moshe Rabbeinu need to remind “am Israel” about those places?
Moshe Rabbeinu did not want to hurt their feelings or reproach them. Therefore, he only mentioned to “am Israel” those places so that they remembered the events and could reconsider the message that each of these places left in their journey through the desert, for themselves.
From here we can learn how careful a person must be with kavod habriyos (honoring people.)
Before reprimanding someone, a spouse, an employee or a friend, we should analyze for a moment what we are going to say and use great caution.
Sometimes people are reprimanded, and this reprimand can be misinterpreted as criticism which can severely damage another person’s feelings.
Maybe we need to expand our observational criteria and talk about the issues at hand so that this reprimand that turned into “criticism”, may sound different from the listener’s perspective.
As we see with Moshe Rabbeinu when he rebukes “am Israel”, he insinuates the sins by mentioning the places but omitting the situations, suggesting what had happened in those places but not making any direct accusations. And why?
Because when a person reproaches or reprimands someone directly, in an offensive way, they can make the person not want to listen to anything and continue on their way, sometimes even influencing them to follow a path worse than before.
And this is basically what Moshe Rabbeinu did.
He did not criticize directly or insult them or admonish them explicitly about what they did.
Instead, he rebuked them by hinting, so that they would be able to come to the understanding on their own and amend their ways.
This Parashat always falls in the week of Tisha B’av.
The Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because of “Sinat Chinam” – hating each other.
Today we have the great opportunity to honor and respect the people around us by striving to communicate better amongst ourselves without using destructive criticism.
Rabbi Itzchak Lasry