Aitan in particular. We spend most of our free

Aitan Stuppel1.8.18Tochecha Journal #1Over the course of high school, I have grown extremely close with two friends in particular. We spend most of our free time together and have developed what I thought were unbreakable bonds. A few weeks ago, however, one of these friends, who we will call “Josh” out of respect, began to broaden his horizons and interact with a wider range of people. Over winter break, it reached a point where he did not answer any of our texts or phone calls. To add to the pain, we saw him appear in snapchats of others in our grade. His actions shocked my other friend and I because of its abruptness. We became extremely hurt because we felt as if he valued his popularity over loyalty to us as a collective. I spoke with my other friend and we both agreed that we should pull him aside when school resumed again, but were mainly conflicted over how we should go about things thereafter. It truly felt like betrayal to us, but we also had to consider his side of things. We could not force him to be with us if he was not happy and he is entitled to be around whomever he likes. Ultimately, we decided that a rebuke was necessary so that we could understand where Josh was coming from and, similarly, Josh to us. The moment we got back from break, we sat him down and, in an act of rebuke, we told him how we felt. We explained how we just wanted things to go back to the way they were before and that throwing us under the bus after all these years was offensive. Josh was very compassionate and agreed to put more effort into becoming an overall better friend. This situation relates to Leviticus 19:17, in which it says, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke, you will rebuke your fellow and you will not bear sin on him.” As done in class, we will dissect this verse piece by piece according to Ibn Ezra’s commentary. Firstly, by commentating on the significance of “in your heart”, Ibn Ezra reveals that the mitzvah is focused on the one giving the rebuke. We are commanded to make others aware of times we feel they have done something wrong so we do not bear hatred privately and without their knowledge of it. My friend and I knew that we could not keep our inner feelings to ourselves, so we confronted Josh through tochecha in order to better the situation and prevent the complete destruction of our friendship. Had we concealed this hatred from Josh, we would eventually be sinning. This topic is described in Ibn Ezra’s commentary of the last part of the verse, “rebuke your fellow.” He described that we must do tochacha and not hate in our hearts so that we do not suspect even more sin from these individuals. Inevitably, had we not been straightforward with Josh, our feelings would grow past the original scenario. In the future, this would lead to us actually sinning and being punished for hating with no real cause. Ramban takes a slightly different stand on the topic of “rebuking your fellow.” He believes one should rebuke to teach the person why he was wrong and to teach him a moral lesson about social behavior. My friend and I could have made a mutual decision to display our hatred openly when we sat down with him and sinned because of it. Instead, we saw the value in letting him understand our position and, luckily, Josh understood our rebuke. By teaching him this lesson, Josh recognized his wrongdoings and agreed to change his ways. Since then, the situation has slowly begun to mend. From my experience with the tochacha, I have understood that it is a way to better ourselves, regardless of whether we receive it or give it. I will surely apply this newfound knowledge to my everyday life in a meaningful way.

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