Photo Credit: Stephen Fulljames, Flickr
By Yonatan Gordon
While this article was prompted by the stonings outside Tekoa, Hevron, and continued tension (stone-related and otherwise) on the Temple Mount today, Hasidism teaches that we can sweeten these bitter, difficult events by initiating the opposite. If our enemies are throwing stones of hate, then we should counter by throwing stones of love.
But our ‘stones’ are not physical. Instead the stones that we would like to mention in brief are the spiritual stones of Rebbe Yichiel Michel of Zlotshov, one of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s most well-known disciples.
Rebbe Michel said that if he were to see a Jew coming out of a house of iniquity, then
the love towards him would not decrease at all. On the contrary it should increase,
because he now has compassion for him.
Although there is a time and place to rebuke a fellow, as explained in Hasidism, this is only if this person will listen. When will he listen? We can learn this from a gematria, numerical equivalence, as “stone throwing” is the same numerical value as ““You shall love your fellow as yourself” (both 820).
When is it okay to throw stones?
Say that you see another Jew desecrating the Shabbat, or in Rebbe Michel’s example, coming out of a house of iniquity. Is it ever okay to stone him?
We are not speaking now of physical stones, but words of rebuke. When is it permissible to rebuke (read: “throw stones at”) a fellow Jew?
The answer relates back to our gematria. When words of rebuke are conveyed with boundless love, like the love of Rebbe Michel, then it is okay to throw these ‘stones’. But unless we have reached this level, then it is better to pray for this Jew’s wellbeing without any rebuke at all.
Why did I bring this particular meditation?
This meditation was discussed prior to Rosh Hashanah this year at a yeshiva in the news today. The location where this teaching was delivered is the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, a building that was recently seized as an army base. (For those interested, the English transcript of the class is viewable here.)
But the lesson of how to throw ‘stones’ of love remains. There was an event today in support of the yeshiva and the residents of Yitzhar, and once again, Rabbi Ginsburgh emphasized the importance of loving one’s fellow Jew.
This is the antidote. The cure by which we will overcome the real enemies of the Jewish people. When we are united with unconditional love, then we will merit to witness the time when no stone will be raised against us from our enemies in hate.
When our “stones of love” don’t appear as rebukes at all, but compassionate words of love spoken from a close friend. then we will have completed the sweetening of the bitter version of “stone throwing”.
The cure for physical stones thrown by our enemies in hate is positive words of reproof spoken out of love.
May we merit to experience this transformation today.
Note to Reader: Before commenting on this article, it is worthwhile to have the 820 meditation in mind. Regarding the situation in Yitzhar. The idea is not there is one side all faultless and one side all guilty, but that a proper sense of familial love and compassion would have resolved this situation before it ever escalated.