28 Av 5781 / Friday, August 06, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Real Question    

The Real Question

I received this question recently and the important answer is not at all what you might expect… a must read for everyone!


Dear Rachel, 


Many years ago I listened to Rabbi Brody‘s CD on modesty and it changed my whole life!! 


Now, someone showed me a photo of the wife of someone else <name omitted> who teaches Torah, and she was quite immodest.  


How can somebody be so hypocritical?



You ask an EXCELLENT question and I am happy to answer your questions as best I can! It is so important to ask about things that bother us, and indeed Judaism has all the answers if you will search and ask. 


However, a question like this doesn't have a flat answer. In order to understand why, let's start with some simple questions: 


  • - We know this person was not born religious, so we can assume his wife is in the same boat. How do you know how old that picture is? Maybe his wife has greatly improved her modesty since then?  


  • - How do you even know that this is for sure his wife?! 


  • - Even if it's recent - the reality is that not every couple becomes religious at the same pace. No two people are alike, including couples. Rabbi Arush is very strong that it is forbidden to push his wife on religious issues. Only prayer and encouragement! Why should he not teach what he knows just because his wife isn't on board? He’s inspiring a lot of people! 


Therefore, your question, while being totally understandable - is steeped in judgements and assumptions - to which we don't know all the answers.  


Hence, the question might be based on slander, if his wife has improved her dress recently, including other prohibitions of reminding someone who repented of their previous sins, and more. And even if she hasn't - just sharing the picture is lashon hara, because it's true and it's very negative! 


This is just part of the reason why Rabbi Arush is so strong: "I worry about my relationship with Hashem. Judging other people and what they are doing, good or bad, has nothing to do with me!"  


This is because inevitably such discussions and questions become fraught with negative commandments including not judging your fellow favorably and not having ahavat Yisrael, besides the numerous prohibitions  included in the laws of careful speech.  


Again, I warn you - many, many times the reality is NOT as it was presented. How many stories do we know of people who were framed by someone else? Jewish law says that even if you saw the person with a stolen item, you are not allowed to assume he stole it!  


There is a terrifying story Rabbi Arush once told about someone who stole and then framed someone else, a tzaddik, to make it look like it was him who stole it. The tzaddik refused to swear that he did not steal the item and although he was very poor, was forced to pay for it. The whole town slandered him and worse. Eventually the thief learned of the terrible treatment that tzaddik was enduring and regretted his actions. He came forth and apologized and returned the stolen item, which enabled the tzaddik to get his money back 


Harav said, "Now let's analyze each one's judgement in Heaven: 


The tzaddik is a tzaddik - he was shamed and said nothing.  Clearly, he goes right to the highest halls  of Heaven.  


The thief - did teshuva! And his teshuva was accepted. He also goes to Heaven.  


So, who goes to Gehinnom? All the people in the town! Those who spoke and said what they said, and shamed and humiliated the tzaddik, they caused him terrible suffering! Even though someone saw him holding the stolen item! 


Who are you to talk about him? The street is not a courtroom and you are not a judge! These are terrible sins with virtually no way to correct them!  


Nor did they attempt to repent, because they didn’t even realize they did something wrong in the first place!" 


Here too - the situation is not yours to judge! Even if the situation really is as bad as it sounds to be, it's lashon hara -evil speech that is true! And now you believe it and are spreading it, which is a terrible sin, worse than murder, idol worship, and sexual immorality COMBINED - for which you get NO GAIN. You get nothing from judging this man or his wife. No one is being actively hurt by them. In fact, just the opposite - you might just stop people from learning something good, which would be even worse if the information was false 


Hence, you take upon yourself terrible risk, and terrible sins, with no possibility for gain! Clearly you are a very smart woman with good questions, and this obviously makes no sense!  


So, whenever someone tells you anything about someone else, you must say: "This has nothing to do with me! I have no idea of their judgement in Heaven and it's none of my business. Thanks, but no thanks!" If they try to convince you that it's a mitzvah, say what Rabbi Natan of Breslev said, "I don't want any part of such mitzvot!" He was very, very smart - and that's what he said.  


While it's true that there is such a thing of "toelet" - for a constructive purpose - when you learn Sefer Chafetz Chaim in depth, you’ll see that this is extremely limited. There is no restitution to make in this case, no one was stolen from, no one is being hurt. We don't need to protect children from abusers (by the way, unfortunately due to our sins the laws have been terribly twisted such that people worry about the income of abusers and supporting their family, and forget that the Chafetz Chaim warned that anyone who does NOT speak about abusers and other dangerous people who are hurting children etc. "cannot bear the weight of their sin"!). 


At the very worst is the issue of potential for hypocrisy - which is significant, and I'm not refuting that. But you and I don't have the ability to know the whole true story, and even if we did, we don't have the ability to judge properly whether people are actually turning off from Judaism because of the hypocritical nature of his wife's dress. And especially since most of his popularity is online, unless he is actively flaunting his immodest wife on YouTube or something, then most people wouldn’t even know about the hypocrisy, if it even exists. 


Finally, it is a possibility that cannot be ruled out - that someone could be making this up, or twisting the truth, in order to get people to stop listening to him and be inspired by his classes! In which case the damage is much more severe and hence the punishment! 


I even called a posek at Mishmeret Hashalom (I cannot recommend their magazines and hotlines enough!) and posed him the question, mostly to confirm that there is absolutely no toelet here I could have missed. He told me, "You aren't being strong enough about the severity of this sin! There is no toelet here, there is no potential gain and only serious sins of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, plus either lashon hara or slander, and the potential to turn people away from repentance! Sins and more sins, G-d have mercy! And it is forbidden to believe anything at all based on the picture she was shown!" 


So, there you have it. I doubt this is the kind of answer you were expecting, but it’s the very important truth – and this is why we all must learn the laws of proper speech so carefully!  


Otherwise, as you see, it is all too easy to fall into all sorts of terrible sins which are destroying the world and not even realize it! 


To learn more about this very important worldview that Rabbi Arush teaches, and upon which the entire Redemption is dependent, please read Review the Risk Profile First - and I highly recommend reading the entire series It’s Time to Love Each Other, which is linked at the bottom of the article. 


Thank you again for your question and I hope to hear back from you! 



Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far-off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel.  
Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions, comments, articles, and personal stories to her email:  rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il. 


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