Monday, July 31, 2017

The Ridiculed Rabbi

The Talmud (Beitzah 38a) relates a story about a certain rabbi who delivered a lecture and was ridiculed for what he said. The Talmud concludes that he deserved no better. The famous Rav of Pressburg, Rabbi Moshe Sofer, better known as The Chasam Sofer, asks, why would the Talmud relate a derogatory story about anyone? He answers that this story has an important lesson. The Talmud mentions that the rabbi, prior to giving his lecture, prayed to G'd and said, "May it be Your will that I deliver a lecture that is acceptable to my audience." This is not the right way to pray, says the Chasam Sofer. As mentioned in last week's Torah Attitude (Parashas Vayigash: Give credit where it's due), Rabbi Nechonya ben Hakanah would say a special prayer before starting to study Torah and after he finished his daily studies. The Talmud (Berachos 28b) says that in his prayer, Rabbi Nechonya asked, first of all that he should not make any mistakes in his rulings and lectures; and secondly, that his colleagues should be happy with what he taught. Our primary concern should always be, that whatever we say and whatever we do, it shall make us beloved by G'd. If we manage to do it in a fashion that people like as well, that is a most desired bonus, but it should never be our main focus. This, says the Chasam Sofer, is the lesson our sages wanted to relate to us by sharing with us the story of this rabbi who was only concerned that his lecture should be popular and well received.

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