Saturday, March 29, 2014

Good Chanifa (chanufa) - the basis of personal mental health and a healthy society


update see talmid chachom should conceal his true feelings
Last week Dr. Shulem I were discussing the issue of Psychology and Judaism. The question was raised regarding the mental dynamics that a rabbi and a psychologist have to assess and prescribe changes when a person reports not functioning well.

One of the issues that I have noted is the ignorance of the multiple roles that a healthy and successful Jew lives with. For example Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz once discussed the condemnation by Rav Schach of Rabbi Steinzaltz when he described certain Biblical figures as having human motivations. He noted that this was an example of not knowing, "what issues to discuss over chulent at a Shabbos seuda and what should be published in a book." It is not that the issues raised were wrong - but they were brought up in the wrong forum. Of course this is issue applies also to non-Jewish groups also when dealing with a wide range of information.

Another example is the kollel avreich who commented to me that he was in major trouble with his wife. The day before he had had a rough day in kollel. The gemora didn't make sense to him. His chavrusa was in an antagonistic mood and in general the day hadn't worked out. He went home and lamented that fact that "his learning wasn't working out and he felt in a rut." His wife went ballistic and said, "I have been slaving and sacrificing for 20 years so you can learn in kollel and now you tell me you are not getting anything out of it!"

רע"ב על מסכת אבות פרק א משנה ה
 מכאן אמרו חכמים - רבינו הקדוש בסדר המשניות כתבה מדברי חכם זה שאמר ואל תרבה שיחה עם האשה למדו חכמים לומר כל זמן שאדם מרבה שיחה עם האשה גורם רעה לעצמו. מצאתי כתוב כשאדם מספר לאשתו קורותיו כך וכך אירע לי עם פלוני היא מלמדתו לחרחר ריב. כגון קרח שספר לאשתו מה שעשה משה שהניף את הלוים תנופה והביאתו בדברים לידי מחלוקת. א"נ מתוך שהוא מספר לה שחבריו גנוהו וביישוהו אף היא מבזה אותו בלבה וזה גורם רעה לעצמו:


Another example is the man who came to me with a destroyed marriage. It turns out he was very insistent on total honesty. His marriage was destroyed from the beginning when he told his new bride in the yichud room that she was so wonderful - "that she was almost everything he had spent 20 years looking for in a wife."

These examples are indicative that it is important not to present information in many situations without considering the consequences. This spin or modification of presenting the truth is described by our sages as chanifa (translated as hypocrisy or false flattery or saying one thing with your mouth but thinking something different in your heart). Most people think that chanifa is bad. In fact Chazal tell use that it is permitted to say lashon harah about those who are engaged in chanifa. That they lose their olam habah- in fact Rabbeinu Yonah describes 9 examples of chanifa.

But in fact there is good chanifa and bad chanifa. Kesubos (17a) is another example of good chanifa. "The gemoras asks praise should one say before a kallah at the wedding. And Beis Hillel answers that you should say that she is wonderful and kind. Beis Shamai asks , "But what if that is a lie." Beis  Hillel persists and says that this is the way that any normal member of society should react to the choice that another persons makes - whether it is buying a car or chosing a wife." The Sages say we learn from this that a person should always be me'urav im habrios [which seems to be chanifa]. So even though geneivas daas is prohibited, it is in fact required in some situations.

Good chanifa is widely used in education.



Bava Metzia (85a): Rabbi chanced to visit the town of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon.14 ‘Did that righteous man leave a son?’ he inquired. ‘Yes,’ they replied; ‘and every harlot whose hire is two [zuz], hires him for eight.’15 So he had him brought [before him], ordained him a Rabbi,16 and entrusted him to R. Simeon b. Issi b. Lakonia, his mother's brother [to be educated]. Every day he would say, ‘I am going to my town; to which he [his instructor] replied, ‘They have made you a Sage, spread over you a gold trimmed cloak [at the ceremony of ordination] and designated you "Rabbi", and yet you say, I am going back to my town!’ Said he, ‘I swear that this [my desire] has been abandoned.’ When he became a great [scholar], he went and sat in Rabbi's academy. On hearing his voice, he [Rabbi] observed: ‘This voice is similar to that of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon.’ ‘He is his son,’ they [his disciples] told him. Thereupon he applied to him the verse, The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.17 [Thus:] ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’ — this refers to R. Jose, the son of R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon;18 ‘And he that winneth souls is wise’ — to R. Simeon b. Issi b. Lakonia. When he died, he was carried to his father's burial vault, which was encompassed by a snake. ‘O snake, O snake,’ they adjured it, ‘open thy mouth and let the son enter to his father;’ but it would not uncoil for them. Now, the people thought that one was greater than the other,19 but there issued a Heavenly Voice, proclaiming: ‘It is not because one is greater than the other, but because one underwent the suffering of the cave, and the other did not.


Menoras HaMe'or(Chapter 20 Derech Eretz): A person should always mix properly with others. That means rejoicing with those who are celebrating, worrying with those who are upset, and suffering with the sufferers. He should not jest with those who are crying nor cry with those who are jesting. He should not be awake amongst those who are sleeping nor sleep amongst those who are awake. He should not stand amongst those who are sitting not sit amongst those who are standing. The general rule is that a person should not exhibit characteristics that differ from others if his intent is for good and for the sake of heaven. He should be tolerant and forbearing and nullify his will before the will of others.

תולדות יצחק בראשית לז

הספק השלישי, מה הכוונה במה שאמר כי בן זקונים הוא לו, שאם הכוונה שנולד לעת זקנתו, גם כל בניו נולדו לזקוניו, ויששכר וזבולן אינם גדולים מיוסף רק בשנה, וכמו שהקשה הרמב"ן, ואם הכוונה בר חכים הוא ליה, למה אמר "לו", שמי שהוא חכם לכל העולם הוא חכם:

התשובה שרז"ל אמרו לא יהא אדם עומד בין היושבים ולא יושב בין העומדים ולא עצב בין השמחים ולא שמח בין העצבים אלא לעולם תהא דעתו של אדם מעורבת עם הבריות [עי' כתובות יז א, דא"ז ה], לזה אמר שיוסף היה גאה עם הגאים ונער עם הנערים וחכם עם החכמים, וזהו היה רועה את אחיו שהיו גאים היה רועה ומנהיגם ומשתרר עליהם והם אחיו בני לאה, ועם בני בלהה ובני זלפה שהיו עושים מעשה נערות היה נער עמהם ומסלסל בשערו:

וישראל אהב את יוסף מכל בניו כי בן זקונים הוא לו שהיה זקן עמו, וזהו לו שעמו היה חכם:

There are many other examples of good chanifa - and in fact it seems that society can  not function without it. Even G-d is reported to have lied for the sake of Avraham's shalom bayis. A person who doesn't know how and when to be involved in "presentational spin" will not be a successful or healthy member of society. If a person mechanically reports the same facts to his kids as he says to his wife or the same facts to a stranger that he shares with his wife - he is in big trouble.

What we both realized is the bizarre fact that neither of us was aware where the importance and centrality of good chanifa is discussed in the Torah literature or in the psychological literature. Sources would be greatly appreciated.

42 comments :

  1. josh werblowsky m.d.March 29, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Look into areas in Chazal and Shuts where there there is a conflict between Shalom and Emet.
    See Professor A.Steinberg Encyclopedia Hilchatit Refuit ,second edition,Chelek beis
    493-500

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    1. Interesting point. He is dealing with the question of when to tell a patient about the truth about his medical condition

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    2. I was thinking along the same lines - the psak that we don't tell a husband of his wife's past infidelities so as to allow them to stay married.
      See also Prof. Rakover's pamphlet השלום כערך על based on Shu't HaRama #11

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  2. "as having human motivations"

    Aren't all motivations "human"?

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    1. not sure where you have been. The Biblical personalities are presented as being greatly elevated and different than mere human beings. Thus to talk about them as you would about your friends and relatives is viewed as heresy

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    2. I think you know where I've been, and what I've written about this subject on this blog...

      But I was actually merely pointing out the vagueness of "human motivations". I know many people, as I'm sure you do. When analysing their motivations, would you look at them all in the same way, e.g. would you say that R' Moshe Feinstein's motivations are similar to Vladimir Putin's, or that there is a difference? I would argue that (1) they are both "human", and (2) they are radically different. I further believe that people only used to encountering people like Putin would be incapable of any analysis of R' Moshe, and that any attempt of theirs to do so would be a failure.

      I remember travelling past a Yeshiva in a taxi with an irreligious driver who flatly refused to accept that it was possible that the hundreds of teenage boys inside did not do drugs or hang out with girls. Having never encountered people with values so different to his own, he simply could not believe what we in the Torah world experience every day.

      It is entirely true - based on countless stories and accounts of people who knew him - that R' Moshe was indeed "greatly elevated and different than a mere human being". That is to say,, that his character was so refined that people who have not experienced such refinement of character cannot assess his motivations acc. to their own motives, and if they do, they will fail. Most people cannot even imagine the concept of a man who said (something along the lines of) that he hadn't taken offence for over fifty years, or who wouldn't scream from pain in order not to offend a clumsy driver who closed the door on his hand, etc. etc.

      We can discuss the Avos, Chazal, etc. But the above is the starting point. If you think that all people are basically the same, and that the experience of the person doing a character assessment is not germane to the accuracy and quality of that assessment, then we have discovered the source of our disagreement.

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    3. Another point to ponder.

      The Rambam in his commentary to Pirkei Avos 1:6 says (based on Chazal) that there is an obligation to judge a great Tzaddik favourably even when the situation overwhelmingly indicates that he has sinned. To be חושד such a person is a sin which carries a serious punishment.

      When judging an ordinary person, however, even if the situation is fifty-fifty there is no actual obligation to judge him favourably, but it is meritorious to do so.

      It would seem that the greater a Tzaddik is, the more absolutely sure we must be before accusing them of sinning. If there is even a small possibility that they did not sin, it is an Issur to accuse them of having done so, even if we have a מסתבר theory that they did so. This flies in the face of much of the so-called Biblical commentary that is popular in many circles, and which I criticised on this blog. [I also noted R' Yaakov Chaim Sofer who cites many Acharonim who make this point.]

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  3. R' Daniel Z Feldman "The RIght and the Good" http://www.amazon.com/Right-Good-Halakhah-Relations-Expanded/dp/1933143037/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396143824&sr=1-2

    R' Aaron Levine either in "Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law" or "Economic Morality and Jewish Law" (or maybe both) have chapters on chanifa.

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  4. R' Daniel Z Feldman "The RIght and the Good" http://www.amazon.com/Right-Good-Halakhah-Relations-Expanded/dp/1933143037/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396143824&sr=1-2

    R' Aaron Levine either in "Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law" or "Economic Morality and Jewish Law" (or maybe both) have chapters on chanifa.

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  5. "when he described certain Biblical figures as having human motivations.."

    That wasn't the only issues, there were a lot of other significant problems:

    http://www.yoel-ab.com/katava.asp?id=115

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  6. "hen he described certain Biblical figures as having human motivations"

    Was much more than that, check it out:

    http://yoel-ab.com/katava.asp?id=115

    http://www.jewswithquestions.com/index.php?/topic/225-r-adin-steinsaltz/

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  7. I doubt Rav Shach would agree with Rav Berkowitz as he had this to say of Rav Steinsaltz: "Rav Adin Steinsaltz (Even-Yisrael) (b. 1937), was likewise accused of heresy by Shach, who, in a letter written September 10, 1988, wrote that "...and similarly all his other works contain heresy. It is forbidden to debate with Steinsaltz, because, as a heretic, all the debates will only cause him to degenerate more. He is not a genuine person (ein tocho ke-baro) and everyone is obliged to distance themselves from him. This is the duty of the hour (mitzvah be-sha’atah). It will generate merit for the forthcoming Day of Judgement."[44] Rav Shach meant what he said against Rav Steinsaltz.
    I was fond of thinking that the gedolim only banned Slifkin become he was saying his ideas in a public forum that could adversely influence bnei Torah. I now think that many, perhaps the vast majority of chareidim, believe what they espouse.

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  8. At least according to Wikipedia Rav Berkowitz was wrong:
    "Rav Adin Steinsaltz (Even-Yisrael) (b. 1937), was likewise accused of heresy by Shach, who, in a letter written September 10, 1988, wrote that "...and similarly all his other works contain heresy. It is forbidden to debate with Steinsaltz, because, as a heretic, all the debates will only cause him to degenerate more. He is not a genuine person (ein tocho ke-baro) and everyone is obliged to distance themselves from him. This is the duty of the hour (mitzvah be-sha’atah). It will generate merit for the forthcoming Day of Judgement."

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  9. Steinzaltz was praised by many for his Talmud work. When Rav Shach banned his Talmud, the inside joke in Chabad was that that Artscroll were coming out with their own Talmud, and hence there was a financial interest in putting down the Steinsaltz version.
    In any case, during the Moshiach debacle, I ask Steinsaltz how they could make such claims about their Rebbe, since he had not fulfilled any of the conditions set forth by the Rambam, which they relied upon. His answer was that they are not halachic requirements, but they are "characteristics". At this point I realized that he was totally distorting the halacha to suit their messianism.

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    1. Steinzaltz was praised by "many"

      To quote Daas Torah: sources please!

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  10. josh werblowsky m.d.March 30, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Rabbi Professor Steinberg includes many other examples when it is halachically possible to not tell the truth.l

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  11. תתן אמת ליעקוב
    Teaches that a diversion from the truth in an imperfect world is the truth.

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  12. Sorry, I just came in.

    See Orchos Tzadikim Shar 24 from where it says 'V'yachnif Adam L'ishto...."

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    1. התשיעי המכבד את הרשעים מחמת דרך שלום. אמנם לא ידבר טוב על הרשע, ולא יתנהג בכבודו על דרך שיחשבו בני אדם שהוא נכבד בעיניו, כי לא יחלוק לו כבוד אלא כדרך בני אדם המכבדים העשירים בעבור כי צלחה דרכם ולא מפני חין ערכם. ואף בזה יש חטא ואשמה, כי לא הותר לכבד הרשעים אלא מחמת מורא, שירא שיזיק לו הרשע ויגרום לו הפסד בזמן שיד הרשעים תקיפה. על כן הותר לכבדו כדרך שמכבדים בני אדם בעלי זרוע, אך לא ישבחנו ולא ידבר עליו טוב בפני בני אדם. וכן אמרו רבותינו, זכרונם לברכה (סוטה מא ב): מותר להחניף את הרשעים בעולם הזה. ויש רשעים שאין מחניפים להם, מניין? ממרדכי שאמרו לו: החנף להמן! והשיב להם (דברים כג ז): "לא תדרוש שלומם וטובתם". והיו אומרים לו: שנו רבותינו: מחניפין להם מפני דרכי שלום! אפילו הכי לא רצה להחניף לרשע כזה:
      ויחניף אדם לאשתו משום שלום בית, לבעל חובו - שלא ילחצנו, לרבו - שילמדנו תורה. ומצוה גדולה להחניף לתלמידיו ולחביריו, כדי שילמדו ושישמעו לדבריו לקבל תוכחתו לקיים המצוות. וכן כל אדם שהוא סבור שימשכנו אליו שישמע לו לקיים המצוות, ואם יבוא עליו בכעס לא ישמע לו, אלא בחניפות יקבל תוכחתו, מצוה גדולה להחניף לו כדי להוציא יקר מזולל. כי יש אדם שאינו מקבל תוכחה בגערה אלא בנחת - שנאמר (קהלת ט יז): "דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים". ויש שצריך גערה - שנאמר (משלי יז י): "תחת גערה במבין". ויש במלקות - שנאמר (משלי יט כט): "ומהלומות לגו כסילים". ויש אפילו בהכאות לא יועיל - שנאמר (משלי יז י):

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  13. BTW, calling this good chanifa is like calling killing for a mitzva "good retzicha." Chanifa is an aveira. If the praise is called for, it is not chanifa. The aveira that you guys should be worried about is the lack of seichel that people have these days.

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    1. Chanifa is simply a process of saying or acting something that is not reflective of your inner feelings. It can be for the good or bad - as the sources explain. Shalom bayis is not brought about by an aveira nor or any of the other sources cited. If you prefer call it permitted chanifa versus sinful chanifa as it is categorized in Otzros HaMussar and by Dr. Steinberg

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    2. Ok. You're right about that. Chanufa can be the act of flattery, and not just the aveira. Sorry.

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  14. Also see Bartenura Avos 1,5 D"H Mikaan where he says "Matzasi Kasuv..." This is Mamash similar to 2 of the stories in the original post.

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    1. רע"ב על מסכת אבות פרק א משנה ה
      מכאן אמרו חכמים - רבינו הקדוש בסדר המשניות כתבה מדברי חכם זה שאמר ואל תרבה שיחה עם האשה למדו חכמים לומר כל זמן שאדם מרבה שיחה עם האשה גורם רעה לעצמו. מצאתי כתוב כשאדם מספר לאשתו קורותיו כך וכך אירע לי עם פלוני היא מלמדתו לחרחר ריב. כגון קרח שספר לאשתו מה שעשה משה שהניף את הלוים תנופה והביאתו בדברים לידי מחלוקת. א"נ מתוך שהוא מספר לה שחבריו גנוהו וביישוהו אף היא מבזה אותו בלבה וזה גורם רעה לעצמו:

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  15. I think this discussion can be illustrative of how important it is to have a coherent conceptualization of Hashkafic matters that have relevance to our daily lives. I beg to disagree with the gist of the discussion so far.

    I know. Here I am making trouble again – after being too busy to comment lately… Please don’t “scream” at me :)

    I won’t claim to have attained that coherent conceptualization – but I hope to raise a few points that will perhaps BS”D help the discussion go in that direction.

    First off, what would seem to be the polar opposite of חנופה is considered to be חמור שבחמורות in the Rishonim. For example, the Rabbeinu Yona in משלי ג-ד states that אמת is of paramount importance:

    התחיל עתה לדבר על דרכי עבודת השם ופתח להזהיר על המדות האלה, והם חסד ואמת .... וענין האמת שלא אמר לרע טוב ולטוב רע ולא יחניף לבריות אך יקנא לאמת ... ארבע כתות אינן מקבלות פני שכינה, כת חנפים, כת שקרים ... ודע כי מעלות חסד ואמונה (היינו אמת, ששורש של אמת הוא אמן) גדולות ועצומות אין קצה לתבונת עמלת מי שמגעי לשלמותם, אך מי שאינו אוחז בהם אבל מתהלך בהפכם הוא מן הרשעים הגמורים והנתעבים לפני הש"י!!!... על כן פתח הנה להזהרי בהם כאשר בא לדבר על עבודת הש"י!!!! ... יתחייב האדם להתחזק מאוד במדת האמת ולהרחיב גבולה מרוב היות מדת האמת אהובה ודרושה מלפני הש"י ... (ושם עה"פ קשרם על גרגרותיך וגו') תדבר על מדות האלה תמיד והיא תפארתך כענקים על הגרון .... ויועיל לשומעים כי ילמדו מדבריו דרך החייים אף כי בדברו בשבח המדה יתהדרו האוחזים בה בעיני השומעים ובדברו בגנות יתגנו המעשים ההם (ההפכיים).

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  16. Part 2:

    The problem with חנופה is not only “Chanifa is simply a process of saying or acting something that is not reflective of your inner feelings”. Another problem is that we cause the other person to be a בעל גאוה thereby causing him to become תועבת ה'….

    As the R”Y says in משלי יא-ט:
    עה"פ בפה חונף ישחת רעהו – דבר על מדת החנופה, כי החנף ישחית רעהו בפיו כי ישבחהו בפניו במעלה שלא תמצא בו ויתעבהו בנפשו וישימהו תועבת ה' שנאמר תועבת ה' כל גבה לב ... הצדיקים נחלצים מן החנף בדעתם כי לא יתעו בנפשם להתגאות בעבור שבח ותהלה אשר יהללום הבריות...

    Another MAJOR problem with חנופה is mentioned in שערי תשובה שער ג' מאמר קפט (the אורחות צדיקים quotes a lot from the שע"ת, so that might be the source of the אח"צ mentioned earlier).

    קפט. החלק הב' - החונף אשר יהלל רשע לפני בני אדם אם בפניו אם שלא בפניו. אף על פי שלא יצדיקנו על חמסו ולא יכזב על משפטו. אבל יאמר עליו כי איש טוב הוא. עול זה נאמר (משלי כח) עוזבי תורה יהללו רשע. כי לולא אשר עזב את התורה. לא הלל העובר על דבריה. ומפר מצותיה. וגם כי לא ישבח את הרשע זולתי במה שנמצא בו מן הטוב. ויליץ עליו בפני בני אדם להגיד לאדם ישרו. גם זו רעה חולה. כי בזכרו את הטוב. ואת הרע לא יזכור. ועל כל פשעיו יכסה. צדיק יחשב אצל השומעים ויתנו לו יקר וירים ידו וגבר. וכבר הקדמנו להודיעך המכשולות והשחיתות הנמצאות בכבוד הרשעים.

    Where does the שע"ת explain “המכשולות והשחיתות הנמצאות בכבוד הרשעים”? I think he means מאמר קמט-קנב:

    In short, he mentions FOUR problems: 1) חילול ה', 2) people emulate evil doers, 3) people get punished for being מתחבר with evil doers, 4) the honor of אנשי אמת becomes degraded and the Tzadikkim can’t do good.


    (קמט.) והמכשלות הנמצאים בכבוד הרשעים רבים וידועים. כי יש בכבודם חלול התורה והעבודה. והוא עון המכלה מנפש ועד בשר, (קנ.) והשנית - כי רבים נמשכים אחריהם ואוחזים מעשיהם, (קנא.) והשלישית - כי המתחברים להם אף על פי שאינם עושים כמעשיהם מקבלים פורעניות כיוצא בהם. כאשר זכרנו כבר. (קנ.). והרביעית - כי הם מכניעים כבוד אנשי אמת. ומבטלים העבודה. ואין הצלחה לכבוד הצדיקים זולתי אחרי השפלת כבודם. כמו שכתוב (משלי יד) בית רשעים ישמד ואהל ישרים יפריח. ונאמר (שם יא) בברכת ישרים תרום קרת ובפי רשעים תהרס:



    I think מאמר קמט-קנב is the “nerve center” of why the שע"ת hates חנופה. (I was also told by a TRUE קנאי from the Poppenheim family that this is also the “engine” behind the original הפגנות, מחאות וכו'). The different שיטות in understanding the שע"ת are too lengthy for this discussion – but NOBODY argues on the Rabbeinu Yona – it’s just a question of whether we should go out on the street to express our displeasure, etc…

    So all I’ve done so far is added to the confusion – after all, many authoritative מקורות were brought in this thread condoning and even OBLIGATING חנופה …. So what’s going on?

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  17. OOPS!

    Before I attempt to explain some of the seeming contradictions in Chazal about חנופה, I need to add this:

    The primary reason why Chazal say we should go to work and not live off handouts - according to the Rabbeinu Yona - is so that we shouldn't need to do חנופה. See פרקי אבות פרק ב' משנה ב' וכל התורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטלה ... כי מפניה יאהב מתנות ולא יחיה ויחנוף בני אדם אף אם הם רשעים כדי שיתנו לו!!!

    Just "מוסר"? The סמ"ע סוף סימן רמט בחו"מ brings חנופה as the reason why the מחבר says that ממידת חסידות one should not accept presents....

    So the mystery widens...... We CAN'T say that Chazal simply contradict themselves.......

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  18. Ploni before you go any further based upon based on Rabbeinu Yonah you must first acknowledge that there are at two understandings of chanifa in the Rishonim. One is to say good things or praise a sinner. The other is saying something which is not what is bellieved or to have a disparity between what something is and what he is described at. For example a good person who is described as a tzadik or a child who is praised a great talmid chachom - are examples of chanifa - but they don't involve the cases of Rabbeinu Yonah. Similarly the gemora mentioning chanifa for shalom bayis does not involve praising a sinner. Rabbi Akiva Eiger was bothered by the chanifa of people who wrote to him and described as the gadol hador. That is not Rabbeinu Yonah's concern.

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  19. Holding back תוכחה because of חנופה is VERY serious stuff - Chazal say that because of חנופה .... נחייבו שונאים של ישראל כלי'!!!


    (סוטה מא.) מתני': אגריפס המלך ... (ו)כשהגיע {דברים יז-טו} ללא תוכל לתת עליך איש נכרי זלגו עיניו דמעות אמרו לו אל תתירא אגריפס אחינו אתה אחינו אתה:סוטה מא: תנא משמיה דרבי נתן באותה שעה נתחייבו שונאי ישראל כלייה שהחניפו לו לאגריפס אמר ר' שמעון בן חלפתא מיום שגבר אגרופה של חנופה נתעוותו הדינין ונתקלקלו המעשים ואין אדם יכול לומר לחבירו מעשי גדולים ממעשיך. פרש"י: אגרופה. כחה של חנופה דאע''ג דאמו מישראל אין ראוי למלכות דעבד היה וזילא מילתא: נתעוותו הדינין. שהחניפו הדיינין את בעלי הדין: ונתקלקלו המעשים. שהגדולים ראו עוברי עבירה ולא מיחו בידם מפני חנופה: ואין אדם שיכול לומר לחבירו מעשי גדולים ממעשיך. שמתוך שלא מיחו בעוברי עבירה למדו הדורות את מעשיהם ונמצא כולן עוברין:

    Okay ... enough said...... So how come חנופה is sometimes a מצוה ... and why be מתיר so that יהא דעתו של אדם מעורבת בין הבריות?

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  20. DT:

    Of course, you're right about the difference between חנופה where אין פיו ולבו שוים and praising a רשע in any way that implies that he is special... (and כש"כ not praising the רשעות itself...

    . But what about the R"Y about causing גאוה? And what about מניעת תוכחה ... which ממידת חסידות goes so far as not taking presents ALTOGETHER מחשש מניעת תוכחה?

    BTW: The RA"E was simply doing what the R"Y says at the end of משלי יא-ט.

    . הצדיקים נחלצים מן החנף בדעתם כי לא יתעו בנפשם להתגאות בעבור שבח ותהלה אשר יהללום הבריות


    PS: For a bit on saying שבחים יותר מן האמת, see שדי חמד מערכת חית כלל ק"מ חנופה, where he brings the שיטה מקובצת on the Gemara you quote - his הסבר is עדיין צ"ע קצת לפענ"ד. see how the רש"ש learns the Gemara in כתובות יז..

    Please see the מאירי .....

    On the other side of the coin, see מגילה כג:
    ואין עושין מעמד ומושב פחות מעשרה: כיון דבעי למימר עמדו יקרים עמודו שבו יקרים שבו בציר מעשרה לאו אורח ארעא:
    פרש"י: לאו אורח ארעא. להטריח שליח לכך ולקרותן יקרים דא''כ מה הנחת למרובין

    it's "not pashut". In מס' מגילה there was no question of any sinners ... and still they counted words....

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  21. I think that we need to be informed by several important concepts in order to properly understand the balance that would enlighten our proper behavior vis-à-vis the issue of truth vs. flattery:

    1) We should be cognizant and appreciative of the diversity and variety of opinions found in humanity – in issues that are purely SUBJECTIVE. Surely, we should be sensitive to their REAL pain and joy, where no Torah transgression is involved. This is all part of Ahavas Yisroel.

    2) We should be partial and unyielding in our opinions concerning matters that the Torah views as OBJECTIVELY true or false, and we should constantly endeavor to advance these Torah truths.


    3) We should recognize the frailty of human nature and the ubiquitousness of negative character traits and urges that lead us all astray.

    4) We should constantly endeavor to be helpful to our fellow Jews and benefit them in every way possible. This includes looking out for both their spiritual and material wellbeing and do everything possible to minimize their undue displeasure.

    The Chazal’s mentioned in this post paint a (partial) picture of many of the concerns with חנופה, depending on how and where we employ it:
    First), the problem of אין פיו ולבו שוים-this is a form of falsehood. However, we sometimes have other concerns that overweigh this issue.
    Second) Causing גאוה, which starts a chain-reaction where the נחנף feels smug and therefore minimizes his appreciation for the need for self-improvement.
    Third) מניעה מחיוב תוכחה-which בעומק means refraining from helping another Jew improve his life, which is in his long-term self-interest, because of my short-term self interest in retaining his (uninformed) good favor.
    Fourth) Causing evil or evildoers to be honored, thereby strengthening the power of evil.

    In instances where the benefits of חנופה overweigh the damage, we are allowed to engage in חנופה, and sometimes actually have a מצוה to do so. This is usually only the case where

    By understanding how the aforementioned factors interact, I believe we can understand the Torah view of חנופה:

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  22. Part 2:

    A. We have a MITZVOH to be חונף for the purpose of שלום בית and for חינוך. This is based on the combination of #2,#3 & #4 above. We want to further Torah (שלום בית is a Mitzvoh!) + We recognize that truth isn’t enough of a motivator for many + we want to benefit others in every way possible. As DT noted, the only downside here is the problem of אין פיו ולבו שוים (Noted earlier as “First”). This is what Baba Metzia 85 means.

    B. Informed by Ahavas Yisroel, we praise other people’s decisions on subjective matters. Never be adamant that the walls need to be painted green and not blue, but rather accept other people’s views on subjective matters and be a sport... This is also only an issue of אין פיו ולבו שוים (Noted earlier as “First”). This is where the concept of being מעורב בין הבריות comes into play. Surely, we are sensitive to the joys and pains of other people. This is what the מנורת המאור means.


    C. We shy away from causing undue pain, where there’s nothing to be done anyway. Let’s say that you know that your friend bought a car that’s a lemon at an auction were all sales are final. Don’t cause him undue pain, because there’s nothing that can be done, anyway.

    I think that the concept of מי שלקח מקח מן השוק ישבחנו בעיניו and of כלה נאה וחסודה is a combination of B. & C. above, as informed by #1 & #4: Meforshim explain what Rashi says חוט של חסד משוך עליה as alluding to סוטה מז. Where the Gemara says: רבי יוחנן שלשה חינות הן חן מקום על יושביו חן אשה על בעלה חן מקח על מקחו. The point is that כשם שפרצופיהן שונות כך דעותיהם שונות – people have different tastes in marriage, possessions and residence. Don’t knock someone elses SUBJECTIVE tastes.

    More than that, even if we know that he married a woman that’s has – for example – anger issues, we should be quiet. Why? Because as the רש"ש explains, since we should only divorce אם מצא בה ערוות דבר, we would be causing a fellow Jew needless pain – it’s like the non-refundable lemon bought at auction.


    D. In cases where we DO have a chance of correcting things, we should NOT be חונף and remain silent. That’s why the גמרא in Sota considers the חנופה of אגריפס to be such a terrible sin – he was a מלך כשר and we WOULD have listened, but the חכמי הדור wrongly refrained from rebuking him – this was NOT in his greater interest, but rather due to short-term self interest in retaining his (uninformed) good favor (noted as “third”) above.

    E. How about praising people beyond what they truthfully deserve? The שדי חמד I alluded to talks about that, and I believe what he means to say is that we SHOULD NOT refrain from doing so, but only where we offer “regular” praise that is not especially effusive and would therefore not cause גאווה. This is included in #4 – looking to benefit other people & make them happy, as long as it doesn’t cause unintended consequences. To avoid depression, the Seforim mentions that we may engage in a certain type of גאוה.

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  23. Walking on eggshellsApril 1, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    "- "that she was almost everything he had spent 20 years looking for in a wife.""

    So the issue here was that he used the word "almost?" And thus she got offended that she wasn't considered EVERYTHING he was looking for?
    Otherwise I'm not getting this or what the problem was. Please explain.

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    1. I gather you are not married?
      She was greatly offended because no one in their right mind would make such a comment in that situation and it indicated that not only that he didn't think she was perfect but it also showed he was incredibly insensitive.

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  24. Knock it off Rabbi.

    You mean to say that the best route to marital bliss is to make believe every spouse is perfect, and otherwise it means being insensitive?

    I think that's a mixed up way of looking at things. The best way is to know that each person is not perfect, otherwise reality sets in sooner or later.

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    1. upset - it is not just my view but it is clearly that of Chazal, rishonim and achronim. According to you - why did G-d lie to Avraham about what Sara said?

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    2. nothing about beliefs about the spouse , but what you say and more important the message the spouse hears - the negative - from day one she was never perfect for him, almost good enough , but not quite and uinforrtunately womam never forget this type of communication

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  25. and btw, I am married.

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  26. Dear Rabbi:

    I asked my Rabbi about the question you posed, and he told me to tell you to look in the Daat Zekenim Mibaale Hatosofot on the passage saying that Sara laughed. He says that some say that G-d changed what Sara said because what she said was a sin, not because she said that Abraham wasn't perfect, but rather because she believed that Abraham will never be able to regain the bodily functions necessary for insemination. Her sin was that she thought people can't change!

    The husband might be lacking some people skills, but the wife is the one who needs major help, because her happiness is dependent on perpetuating the fantasy that she is unblemished. With such a fragile ego, she'll never succeed in life.

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  27. I support "upset"April 3, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    It would be nice if Rabbi Eidensohn took the time to respond to "upset", otherwise It would seem that RE promotes a certain POV and ignores logical arguments to the contrary.

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    Replies
    1. @upset's point of view and apparently his Rabbi are simply not supported by either psychology or Torah. what he says is simply nonsense. He ignores the comments of the Daas Zekeinim that disagree with his point of view

      Look at the commentaries to Kesubos 17a.


      רש"י על בראשית פרק יח פסוק יג
      ואני זקנתי - שינה הכתוב מפני השלום שהרי היא אמרה ואדוני זקן:


      רמב"ן על בראשית פרק יח פסוק יג
      (יג) ואני זקנתי הוא פירוש אחרי בלותי ודבריו אמת, אך מפני השלום לא רצה לגלות מה שאמרה "ואדוני זקן", כי היה ראוי שיאמר "ואני ואדוני זקנים", כי שרה בשניהם תצחק:


      רבי יוסף בכור שור על בראשית פרק יח פסוק יג
      למה זה צחקה וגו'. כבר פירשתי למה הוכיח שרה יותר מאברהם. ואני זקנתי - לא היה דרך הארץ לגלות לו שקראתו "זקן" פן יקפיד:


      דעת זקנים מבעלי התוספות על בראשית פרק יח פסוק יג
      (יג) ואני זקנתי - מכאן אחז"ל (מציע' פ' השוכר) שמותר לשנות מפני השלום שהיא אמרה ואדוני זקן והקב"ה שינה ואמר ואני זקנתי ואע"ג דלפום ריהטא משמע שגם היא אמרה ואני זקנתי דכתיב אחרי בלותי. י"ל לי יכול להיות תקנה ללדת בנים שהרי אחרי בלותי היתה לי עדנה שהרי פרסתי נדה אבל לבעלי אין תקנה שהרי ואדוני זקן וכן נ"ל דמשמע הלשון היתה לי ולא תהיה. ויש מי שאומר חלילה שישנה המקום שהרי דובר שקרים לא יכון לנגד עיניו וגם היא אמרה ואני זקנתי והוא פירוש אחרי בלותי וגו' בתמי' ושינה מפני השלום שלא ספר כל דבריה אלא קצתם וכל שאר בני אדם מותר לשנות לגמרי. וא"ת מה הקפדה יש לאברהם אם אמרה שהוא זקן י"ל ר"ל שטוחן ואינו פולט:

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    2. A simple explanation - there are many situations where it is important to express appreciation of one's wife. When a husband or wife says - you are almost perfect it implies that there are things that the spouse doesn't like. Thus saying this is giving tochacha - which is especially inappropriate and insensitive to be doing in the yichud room.

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