When I was in Neveh Zion some thirty years ago, there was an incident where a boy was stealing from everyone. As teenagers, we did not know that this was indicative of a mental disorder known as kleptomania. Every student had something stolen by him, and the dormitory was fueled with extreme rage and frustration.
One day, the entire student body congregated in the hallway outside the boy’s room. Some were demanding that he open the door and return their stolen items, while some others were trying to pick the lock or break down the door. The student had locked himself in his room to protect himself from being caught with the items and being beaten to smithereens.
I personally wasn’t aware of anything that had been stolen from me and was feeling guilty of being just a bystander at this potential lynch mob. Thank heavens, someone had miraculously gotten hold of Rabbi Yehuda Mandelcorn, the principal, just seconds before all mayhem was about to break loose.
Rabbi Yehuda Mandelcorn of blessed memory was loved and respected by all the students and his presence suddenly captured the attention of the entire student body. He lined us all up against the hallway walls and asked us to stand up straight and remain silent.
He spoke to us with a strong and caring voice. I do not remember the exact words he used, however, the gist of what he said was that he loved us but was disappointed in our behavior.
He explained to us that as a group we were all equally responsible for the outrageous conduct towards another student. Then he asked us all to put out our right hands. He walked by each student, looked us squarely in the eyes, and lightly hit our outstretched hand.
Our beloved principal was disappointed with us and even though we barely felt his potch, or hit, the feeling of letting him down pierced right through our hearts. He then ordered all of us back into our rooms while he tended to the mentally ill student.
The boy was sent home to get proper medical treatment and all the stolen belongings were returned to the students.
In this week’s parsha, פרשת תולדות. Avraham passes away and our Patriarch Yitzchok blesses Jacob using the name אלוקים. , as the verse says,
וְיִֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙ הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים מִטַּל֙ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּמִשְׁמַנֵּ֖י הָאָ֑רֶץ וְרֹ֥ב דָּגָ֖ן וְתִירֹֽשׁ׃
And G-d will give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
The name of Hashem Elohim was not used with Avraham and is newly introduced through Yitzchok.
Chasidus explains that there are many advantages to this name over the name that was used by his father Avraham. The name of Hashem used by Avraham was one of kindness and bounty to the general public. Such as sunlight,clean air and water. This name is much more precise in giving to each person exactly what he/she needs for growth. This name requires a deep relationship with each divine soul to understand and to supply them with exactly the amount of what they need, at the time that they need it, in the proper place where they need to receive His goodness.
This type of giving forces us to receive repeatedly, thereby developing an ongoing relationship with the Almighty. In this type of giving, you get for what you truly earned and not just because you happened to be in the right place at the right time. Even though this treatment is more difficult on us, sometimes, because it might be restricted for our benefit, however, when the light is finally released into one’s soul, it comes with an extremely powerful impact.
In addition, the Torah reminds us in the opening verse, that Yitzchok is the son of Abraham. This is explained in Chasidus that Hashem is constantly trying to wrap his critical judgments around his divine soul in a coating of love and kindness.
As Jews looking to emulate in Hashem’s ways, we should view people with love and benevolence in addition to looking for ways to soften our harsh judgments of other people. When we need to discipline our children, we should make sure that our point of view is fully focused on helping the child grow and improve in a constructive way.
Our words and actions in disciplining them should have nothing to do with our stress or any other personal problems. Such discipline will only come to haunt you later in life.
If we need to correct our employee’s mistakes, it should be done first by complimenting him/her first on their authentic accomplishments. When the person feels that the criticism is coming from a good, loving, and caring place, he/she will accept the truth and grow and improve from the experience.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.