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leniency as a bridge
middot righteousness besorah leniency as a bridge

leniency as a bridge

Written by  rebbetzin malkah

art-bridgeHis attitude, always to bear in mind the good of the next person, made him adopt a more lenient attitude in all matters of permitted and forbidden things, based on the principle "the power to rule leniently is to be preferred." As has been stated, Rabbi Israel [Salanter] would punctiliously observe all stringencies and comply with all opinions. This applied where he himself alone was involved. Wherever others were concerned, he would always seek the ways and means to rule leniently. This accounts for his many well-known rulings in matters pertaining to health and danger to life,"danger to life being graver than ritual prohibitions."

From here stemmed his audacious granting of permission to perform acts otherwise forbidden on Shabbat and to eat on Yom Kippur during the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Vilna. And from here stemmed his lenient ruling on his own conduct where others might thereby suffer hardship. Reliable sources indicate that one of the reasons for Rabbi Israel [Salanter] refusing to accept a rabbinical appointment was that he sided with the more lenient opinions in many halachot in opposition to the prevailing stricter rulings of the other authorities, and he was unwilling to stir up objections and arguments. --The Mussar Movement, Volume 1, Part 2 pages 253-54.

As we observe time and time again Rabbi Salanter's leniency and compassion toward those around him regarding halachic observance, it would seem that he followed and ruled in the spirit of Hillel.  For us as believers, we can relate this kind of righteous behavior as that which our Mashiach Yeshua stressed to his disciples and lived out.

like little children

If we are working for a world to espouse a greater love and service to Hashem, it can only come about through those who are alive:  alive in spirit and alive in the flesh.  If we crush those around us in an uncaring manner that is strict and so halachically stringent, then we have surely missed the point of observance.  It is through the preservation of life through mind, soul and body that we will captivate those around us and draw them to divine service.  We need to gently help those around us grow tenderly in observance and service.  This can only be done with patience, kindness and gentility. Anything less lacks compassion and is not a worthy representation of our Messiah. 

At that hour, the talmidim approached Yeshua and said, “Who, then, is the great one in the kingdom of Heaven?”

Yeshua called a little boy to him, and he stood him up in their midst.

He said, "Amen, I say to you, if you do not return to become like the children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever makes himself lowly like this child is the great one in the kingdom of Heaven. The one who receives one child like this in my name receives me.

The one who causes one of these little ones who have emunah in me to stumble would be better off to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." --Matthew 18:1-6, DHE

Growing in our spirituality, we are much like children.  We are eager to please, and sometimes when we are hurt, we feel especially vulnerable. We are innocent and we wish to learn and grow quickly. When we are not surrounded by compassionate mentors, who guide us and help us grow in our soul work, we can find ourselves crushed and may abandon everything all together.  Just as a child is not able to operate cognitively, mentally and physically like an adult at a young age, how much more do we need to grow spiritually in stages and in love. Those who mentor and teach must do so with a proper temperament lest they hurt those they disciple and cause a disgrace upon the name of the Eternal.

Children are also humble and seek to do good because it is the right thing to do.  When it becomes something of a status symbol or a way to oppress others, then the innocence is lost as well as the merit of the deed.   Yeshua is telling us to guard against this kind of unrighteous living. He is provoking us to return to purity of intention, innocence and love of service.

Seek to operate in love and seek to prevail in compassion.  When those around you see how beautiful and kind your service to Hashem and His creation is, it will not only inspire many but reach farther than you can even imagine...l'dor v'dor.

 

Gospel references taken from Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels (DHE)®, © Copyright Vine of David 2010. Used by permission.

1 At that hour, the talmidim approached Yeshua and said, “Who, then, is the great one in the kingdom of Heaven?” 2 Yeshua called a little boy to him, and he stood him up in their midst. 3 He said,

Amen, I say to you, if you do not return to become like the children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever makes himself lowly like this child is the great one in the kingdom of Heaven. 5 The one who receives one child like this in my name receives me.

Obstacles to the Kingdom

Mark 9:42–48 • Luke 17:1–2

6 The one who causes one of these little ones who have emunah in me to stumble would be better off to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7
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