Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Can a talmid chachom degrade himself to stop others from sinning? Understanding Rav Shalom Arush

Questions have been raised concern  Rav Shalom Arush's  announcement that he will no longer provide consultations with women because of the concern for the yetzer harah - as seen in recent rabbinic scandals. Some have claimed that he should not have a problem controlling his yetzer harah. Others have claimed this is an over reaction and there is no reason for such a change. I just came across an interesting explanation by Rav Yitzhok Zilberstein which seems to adddress these questions.

Is it permitted for a talmid chachom to degrade himself in order to benefit the masses?

Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein (Chashuki Chemed - Yoma 18b): Question: Is it permitted for a talmid chachom to scream "There is a fire in the house of Amram" as Rav Amram the Pious did (Kiddushin 81a) in order to teach the masses that they should be very careful with the prohibition of yichud or perhaps it is prohited to degrade himself in the eyes of the community? Answer: The Ben Yehoyada (Yoma 18b) writes concerning the gemora that Rav and Rav Nachman had a practice of publicly asking "who will be my wife for a day" when they arrived in a community, "G-d forbid that we should suspect gedolim of having uncontrollable lusts and therefore being unable to survive without a wife for a small number of days... Please pay attention to my explanation. There are times when you find communities that have a bad custom that the men do not get married until after they are 30 or 40 years old. ... There are in fact cities in Europe which have such a custom. This custom causes much problem for the ignorant masses who succumb to temptations. That is why the rabbis made these public anouncments about their desire to be married to a local woman – even if it were only for one day. This was done purely to cause aware of the issue in the hearts of the masses. The masses would conclude, "If rabbis who are devoted to Torah study and and night and kedusha are still concerned lust and don't want to be without a wife even for a few days – then surely this is true for young men who have very strong lusts." This approach of self-degradation succeeded in conveying the importance of marriage more than many rebukes. Thus we see that the rabbis accepted degradation and disgracing their honor in order to prevent others from sinning. From this we can conclude that it is in fact permitted for a talmid chachom to degrade himself in order to benefit the masses.

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.