Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
The CURE For Election Fever
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:47:58 PM
Number of views: 471

Many people in Israel are now afflicted with Election Fever. This "malady" causes politicians from different political parties to verbally abuse, shame and attack each other. This is classic Lashon Hara V' Sinat Chinom.(Baseless hatred.) How can we who support different political parties avoid falling into this vicious cycle?

The Chofetz Chaim offers a profound explanation of the root of Sinat Chinom and Lashon Hara. The catalyst of discord is the focus on points of dissimilarity between us, to the exclusion of the things we have in common. Another person may have many wonderful qualities, but we don't see them because we are so zeroed in on the components of the other person's personality that we detest.

For example, Mr. A. can't stand Mr. B. because Mr. B. is an avowed SHAS party member, and Mr. A. is a diehard member of MERETZ. Mr. B. may be generous and pleasant, but Mr. A. cannot see past the fact that B. supports a different political party.

Lashon Hara results from focusing on another's negative traits and not seeing his positive qualities. When we cannot see beyond the things that irk and upset us about his personality, we may feel the need to share those negative feelings with others.

The Torah warns that one who speaks Lashon Hara will be afflicted with Tzoraas. What is the Middah K'neged Middah here (measure for measure punishment)? A person who has Tzoraas may be 99% healthy. There may be only one small blotch of Tzoraas on his skin. Yet that one blotch renders him a Metzora, totally unclean. The 1% of afflicted skin completely defines him, just as he defined another person by focusing only on the 1% of his personality that he dislikes.

The Hebrew word MACHLOKET (dispute) is derived from the word CHELEK (a part), for one involved in a dispute sees only a part of the entire picture.

My Rebbe, Rav Pam Ztl, noted that it is our responsibility to constantly espouse the merits and virtues of Klal Yisrael. The Tanna D'Bei Eliyahu speaks about the intense pleasure G-d has when we speak kindly of our fellow Jews. Rav Pam bemoaned the fact that it is common to hear people speaking about the spiritual degeneration of our times.

However, we must realize that G-d derives no pleasure from such negative speech. Rav Pam added, "Perhaps this malady of speaking negatively about our fellow Jews is one of the causes of the delaying of Moshiach."

It is analogues to a parent who has a wayward child, who causes the parent much heartache and grief. If a person approaches the parent and tells him about the negative and sinful behavior that his child is involved in, it will cause the parent great anguish, even though the parent is aware of his child’s wicked behavior. However, if the person would tell the parent how his child helped and acted kindly to him, the parent would be extremely appreciative.

So too, G-d, our Loving Parent, waits to hear words of defense and merit on behalf of Jews, especially by other Jews. It is not a matter of being blind to the truth of our faults but a matter of focus and perspective. What do you choose to see? Unless you have the ability to correct and rectify evils that are committed by other Jews, you should not speak negatively and derisively about any Jew. Rather, we must seek out our fellow Jews' positive traits and focus on them.

The Rambam in De’oat 6 rules that praising and speaking positively about Jews is part of the Mitzva to love our fellow Jews as ourselves.

There are undoubtedly many serious challenges and problems confronting the Jewish world. However, there is no shortage of great merits that we possess either. Wherever disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Israel is always there with a first Response Rescue Team. It is all a matter of maintaining a proper perspective.

Let us focus on seeing the proverbial glass as half full instead of half empty. Let us learn to agree to disagree with respect and cordiality.

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