Thursday, July 7, 2016

Deliberate Inaction

From the Facebook page of a friend:

My grandfather was originally German, and everyone knew that German Jews [Yekers] were punctual, precise people! Time was important and in this vein, my grandfather referred to his wrist watch often. 

One day, my grandmother noticed he wasn’t wearing his watch and enquired after it. My grandfather, Ephraim, replied and said, “My watch was stolen at the Mikveh.” To which my grandmother queried, “And how do you know that is where you left it?” My grandfather looked at her and said, “Because I saw the person take it from my pocket.” 

This begged the obvious question, “Why didn’t you stop him?” 

To which he quietly and simply replied, “I didn’t want to embarrass him.” 

With those few words and his deliberate inaction we learn so much … how we should strive to be sensitive to others and to treat those that come into our realm.


DS said...

Wrong! What's good about encouraging a Jew to be a thief? Mind you, a Jew who even uses the Mikvah. That Jew should have been severely reprimanded, and stopped. Embarrassed? He caused his own embarrassment. Typical weak, galuti response.

Leah said...

I normally do not like stories like this, but this one I say "wow".

Anonymous said...

I thought ''wow'' as well and spent some time wondering how I would have reacted, and wondered if I could ever reach that level.
DS your reaction is interesting, that did not occur to me, but I feel you have missed the point here.

Aynode said...

One important thing to consider is that how we react and judge others is how we will ultimately be judged. There's a story I remember reading about the Chafetz Chaim Z'L of him running after I thief screaming "I'm Mochel you. I'm Mochel you".

Anonymous said...

Is it okay a non-Jew to comment..

It made me think too. Here is what I think it could have been handled.

The dear Grandpa could have said in a loud but nice voice.. "Hey.. you found my watch... Thank you" or something like that..
The said thief would not have been humiliated in front of all and sundry.. and it perhaps the man who was doing this sort of theft, in the future might think twice..

Well thats my little thinking..
I do not think it is right to encourage this sort of think with anyone.. but if handled in a nive manner.. well not bad... eh?

Leah said...

Aynode and DS, I see both of your perspectives. I am usually very quickly on DS's perspective that din must be taken. He stole, so he should return.
This story is different to me. How? The innocent man has made an individual decision.His decision is to not embarrass. I believe he will be rewarded in shemayim. It is an individual decision. He has stated, by his action of not taking his watch back, that he will let go of the need to "prosecute" by thought as well as recover a material item- in this case, his watch.
His thought is that bringing dam(blood) to this man's face is not worth recovering

a personal physical possession. In this case, not embarrassing the man, holds a greater value to him. I admire this trait.
I believe that the man who lost the watch will be given reward for his behavior.
I do, however, believe that DS is 100% correct in that the thief should be stopped. I believe Hashem will see to these types of actions. THAT in and of itself, too, is a separate issue. One is an action while the other is a response to that action.
This theft will be dealt with, yet both men's behavior require two different approaches from Hashem, I believe.
DS, I don't believe that by not prosecuting the thief that the innocent man here is guilty. Perhaps he thought he will let Hashem seal with the man who stole the watch.
To be a fly on the wall......
Kol tov.

Anonymous said...

Leah I agree. Sometimes things are best left to Hashem to deal with. I have found that often in my life. I don't get involved. if something bad is meant to happen to me, or anyone, such as theft of something, that is a judgment from Above. Why should I be the one to dole out the punishment or embarrassment to the culprit? I prefer to let Hashem deal with it, and I go along my way.

i guess it comes down to our own level of sensitivity. if we ourselves would be embarrassed, we feel that shame and would not bring it on another person.

Anonymous said...

Oh.. Oh..
Oh..@ annoymous @2.45PM

What if the whole wide world thought like that.. and everyone did what they wanted, rob, steal.. all that awful bad stuff, and there were no judges, or police or whatever.. and oh.. and everyone all waited to let Hashem do the judging..
But i also recall that in the times of the Prophets, judges were appointed, like.. King Solomon, and the women who stole a baby from its mommy because hers sadly died.. then, they came to Solomon, because he was King and Judge, and he was so smart.. He said lets divide the child, and .oh.. then the real mommy said No! and that his how King Solomon knew who the real mommy was..

Now if we had that then.. and Hashem must have given permission to all that, you know, judges and stuff...
If we did not have that.. oh my such chaos.. despite having them ..the judges and what we Have in todays world.. it just is so bad..

Oh my.. now.. i have to sort that out, unless someone more learned could say, something .. oh dear..
no sleep again tonight for me..


Devorah said...

S: Judges, courts and police are all servants of Hashem. People are brought to justice all the time. I don't think you are understanding the concept here. It is not about the fact that obviously stealing is wrong and the thief should and ultimately will have to pay for his crimes, it is about the fact that the victim chose not to embarrass him. Don't confuse the two issues. No-one is saying that stealing is okay. In Judaism we are taught that embarrassing someone is akin to murder and obviously this man had an exceptionally high level of character and would rather lose his watch than embarrass the thief. This is a level most people cannot reach, and perhaps do not even understand. These days it is a rare trait but we can learn from past generations.

DS said...

Still, I disagree. There are situations where embarrassing is OK. I think in this case it would have been the appropriate response - not necessarily to recover the stolen watch, but to reprimand the Jew doing a clear Aveirah IN PUBLIC and expecting to get away with it. It all depends on the motivation. It is a Mitzvah to admonish a Jew - specially a so-called frum Jew. It reminds me of all the sexual abuse taking place in men's mikvaot, a known occurrence, unfortunately. Why is nobody intervening? Why do they allow these kinds of abominations to continue? Granted, stealing is not nearly as bad as homosexual assault, particularly of youths; still, Lo Tignov is one of the 10 commandments, how blind can one be?

The only question is, how should it have been done? In what form? With what words? Loudly? Quietly? ...But to let him get away with it????.... I really don't think so.

Shuki said...

Daisy is correct. Unless good people stand up and confront the evil, its only going to get worse.

Anonymous said...

I am completely siding with the DS' position !
It seems to me to be a typical "german" perversion of our True Torah.
The bottom line: do not learn too much from the "german" Jews. That culture has been already completely rotten before the Shoah, not coincidentally that rotten "Reform" kefirah movement has originated in Germany...

Neshama said...

The previous generations, like the generation of Har Sinai, were of a much higher level of service to Hashem, more sensitive and devoted to Yiddishkeit. Not so today, today it’s every(wo)man for himself, in actions and beliefs.

Devorah said...

yes Neshama and you can clearly see that from the comments here !

Anonymous said...

One last comment...

As i am trying to learn all I can of getting closer to Hashem, I also have heard sermons from Rabbis' who speak of these days we are in, close to the coming of Mashiach, that all will be exposed.

Like it says on your blog Devorah:

"Before the world of truth can come, the world of lies must disappear" - Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook .

So I think that is what is happening.

That is my opinion.


Moriah said...

Hashem wanted him to witness the theft of his watch otherwise he wouldn't have seen it. This is a test for him. Yes one should not allow another Jew to steal but maybe he looked a little too much at his watch.

Anonymous said...

The only one I can completely agree with here is DS! G-D gave us common sense and the Torah as a guide; not to be idiots but to be mentschen, 'tzu Gutt & tzu leit', meaning proper behavior to G-D first and then to man!

He was obligated to confront this man but not to embarrass or humiliate him in front of the others, but could have just approahed him and told him 'sir, you are mistaken, this is my watch' and the thief would have probably automatically given it back to its rightful owner, thus preventing the thief from stealing and yet not embarrassing him either.

Very few people on earth are of the caliber of the Chofetz Chaim, et al. Hashem demands of us 'normalcy' meaning doing right by not hurting others but using HIS G-D given sense which HE gave the human being to be used. This extreme thinking is a galut mentality because we have subjected as no more than being slaves for 2000 years, so we think like them and act like them, thus really desecrating H's Holy Name.

Leah said...

Once again, it was the man's response here that is the focus.
Yes, of course, no one wants rampant theft to go unchecked. It is the man's response- his sensitivity to another that is sonething that we don't see much of in this generation.
Of course a thief should be stopped and punished. Many have a problem about calling secular police for crimes that are unfathomable and the like. I don't. I think if you do the crime you should answer for it - especially serious crimes.
Once again, the focus is the man's response and his sensitivity to another Jew.
It is a seperate issue. Might he be asked why he did not ask why he did not stop him or pull him aside and speak to him? Very possibly. We don't know if he dod not solicit help in this regard.
It is response that is the focus.

My1ambition said...

It would be prudent to study Chapter 30 of Tanya. Embarrassing people doesn't cause less theft. It causes less theft for YOU. Maybe if you spoke with the person like a human being he would begin acting like one.

DS said...


I am sure you have very lofty ideals, but in this case it is " do as I say, but don't do as I do". Don't you realize that you just embarrassed IN PUBLIC the very people who commented on your story ? Where is YOUR sensitivity??? Please don't be holier than thou.

I am quoting you:

" ( N.: The previous generations, like the generation of Har Sinai, were of a much higher level of service to Hashem, more sensitive and devoted to Yiddishkeit. Not so today, today it’s every(wo)man for himself, in actions and beliefs.)

( YOU: yes Neshama and you can clearly see that from the comments here !"

You don't have to publish this. I, for one, do not wish you embarrass YOU in public.

Thank you.

And thank you for your blog full of great links, honestly. I access your blog every day for inspiration, whether from your posts, or from the posts of other bloggers you list.

Chodesh Tov from Kiryat Arba-Hevron, Israel.


Devorah said...

Ds: Very good point. But let's backtrack a bit, perhaps you started the embarrassment by commenting negatively on the blog post !

My reasoning for writing that particular comment you refer to is to point out that the lofty ideals of the past generation are not understood or empathized with anymore. I fully accept your right to disagree with me, just as I have a right to disagree with you. Two Jews, three opinions.

Anyway I apologise for any embarrassment I caused anyone with my comment - perhaps this entire blog post is a lesson for us all.

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting. It's always great to have a discussion, and nothing should be taken personally, we do not know each other in real life, we are arguing about a situation, that's all.

Anonymous said...

The Mitzvah of Tochecha: Tough Love

Lo tisna et achicha bilvavecha; hochei’ach tochi’ach et amitecha v’lo tisa alav chet.

Do not hate your brother or sister in your heart; you must admonish, yes, admonish them or you will bear some of their sin. (Leviticus 19:17)

Anonymous said...

A person who is capable of protesting against wrongdoing and does not do so is held responsible and is heavenly punished for that aveira, even if he himself is a complete tzaddik. For example, if he can object to a transgression that was committed in his household, in his city or even in the entire world (if he is a person of repute whose words are widely heeded), and he remains silent, he will be held accountable for those sins! (Mishpetei HaShalom 9:9-10,18)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:28 - do you advise running after everyone we see eating treife, breaking shabbos, etc and telling them off? We would be run out of town, I am thinking. These days people do not appreciate mussar. Generally speaking.

Anonymous said...

Some people lean more towards chessed and some lean more towards gevurah. That is why some people can see why the man did not speak up, and others cannot see why. It depends on your level of chessed or gevurah. MD

Anonymous said...

Any which way you look at it, common sense, which we are supposed to use to function as normal human beings, dictates that we see wrong as wrong and right & proper as the correct thing to do. In truth, the above is really not chesed as it is meant to be.

Of course, the above subject has the right to do as he thought was right, but it is not how we should teach about chesed. Chesed is true kindness to another or others and not letting someone take someone else's property unless the individual really wanted him to have it as it is the right of an owner to give to whom he wishes.

Anonymous said...

And some people lean more towards honesty and integrity, by exercising control in refraining from stealing another's property.

DS said...


I do appreciate your humility; you really did not have to post this comment which was meant for you personally and which was not in your favor. Many people would have hesitated to post something negative about themselves. It says volumes about your middot, and you are certainly forgiven as far as I am concerned.

Re: what you felt was an embarrassment: I didn't think you would take it that way. I meant to set the record straight regarding the issue, it was certainly not meant as a personal attack on you or anything of that sort. I am sorry if your feelings got hurt and I ask for your forgiveness for having hurt your feelings. I have to learn how to make points without pushing other people's buttons, even if I happen to be right; I confess that I have a hard time with that( It seems that a significant amount of your readers agree with me, so I can't be that wrong!). There are always two sides to a coin, and, as you said, with Jews even three.

I very much appreciated Moriah's comments, Leah's too, and a few "Anonymous" 's as well.

It's good to have a forum such as this one.

Happy Gimmel Tammuz. May this day bring us yet closer to the Geulah Shelemah.

Shabbat Shalom


Leah said...

Dear DS,
Perhaps it might be beneficial to re read some comments with regard to public embarrassment.
Shabbat shalom.

Devorah said...

Leah - see comment from DS at 12:02.

I always say I learn more from the comments than I do from the original post !

Leah said...

Shavua tov. Yes, Devorah, how true. I just do not like to read or hear machlochet and wrote, erased,wrote erased and so on. I figured I would not write anything, then vascilated some more......
No disrespect DS. Have a beautiful week! :)
Please forgive me if my words were not kind or disrespectful. I am sorry.

Devorah said...

Thanks for the back-up Leah, I appreciate it :) I think i will shut off the comments here now.