Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Doing right for our neighbors

Do yourself and favor and buy Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski's book, 'Growing Each Day."

In an excerpt in today's Jewish World Review column, he comments on Exodus 23:4 --

To purchase the book this column is excerpted from, please click HERE.

“If you encounter your enemy's ox or donkey wandering astray, you must return it to him.”

In this mitzvah, the Torah (Bible) makes two demands: (1) to go out of our way to return a lost animal to its rightful owner, and (2) to overcome our hostile feelings towards our enemy if the lost animal is his.

If this is what is demanded toward a mere belonging of an enemy, how much more are we responsible when we see friends going astray and acting improperly? Yet, how often do we avoid telling them that we feel what they are doing is wrong? We rationalize by saying: "We do not wish to interfere in their private affairs. How they run their life is their own business," or "We don't want to offend them."

A popular billboard declares: "A true friend does not allow a friend to drive drunk." If you truly care for others, you will take the necessary steps to protect them from themselves, even if they may be angry at you for doing so. Honesty is more potent than sympathy. A person who has suffered from grievous mistakes often says: "If only someone had stopped me!" Drunk driving is not the only destructive behavior which a true friend would try to stop.

Whenever we see that a friend is doing something which we sincerely believe to be wrong, we have a responsibility to convey our opinion to him or her. Failure to do so comes from either of two rationalizations: (1) I am not really his or her friend, or (2) I really do not believe the behavior is wrong. In either case, we are guilty of insincerity.

Commitment: Today I shall examine my own convictions and the sincerity of my friendship and let this determine if I will share my opinions with my friends.

The Proverbs say that there are certain kinds of fools we should NOT try to convince. Jesus referenced this concept when He said, 'Do not cast your pearls before swine.'

But, when our friends are doing something we sincerely believe to be wrong, at that exact point we are obligated to a.) pray for them sincerely, and b.) speak a word of truth and counsel.

Good words by Rabbi Twerski. Visit his column here, and buy the 'Growing' book here.

These words are appropriate in election season. Politics is something we don't 'talk about' normally. And sometimes people cannot hear whenever we talk about such things. But, underlying issues perhaps can be addressed. Baseline principles can be highlighted.

Perhaps some good can be done.

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