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How Flattery Destroyed a People

The last Judean-Roman king, Agrippa, read the Torah during "Hakhel" and wept, but the Jews assured him that he was their brother. According to the Rabbis, this spelled their end.

1 hr 3 min

Class Summary:

How Flattery Destroyed a People. The last Judean-Roman king, Agrippa, read the Torah during "Hakhel" and wept, but the Jews assured him that he was their brother. According to the Rabbis, this spelled their end.

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  • SC

    Shmuli c. -12 years ago

    Flatterers....
    BS"D



    Thank you Rabbi for a wonderful analysis and a very relevant poignant perspective.



    Wanted to share a thorough review of Rabeinu Yonah's understanding of flatterers and other similiar groups.



    The Gemara teaches that four groups of people will not merit to greet the Shechinah in the World to Come: Letzim (scoffers), Chanifim (flatterers), Shakranim (liars), and Mesaprei Lashon ha'Ra (slanderers). RABEINU YONAH (Sha'arei Teshuvah 3:172-231) discusses in detail the various aspects of these four groups, and he lists the different categories within each group. His words shed much light on the definitions of these groups. We will summarize here the different categories of each group, which Rabeinu Yonah lists in order of decreasing severity.


    1. LETZANIM (five categories):

    (a) A person who spreads false rumors about others in order to degrade them. (This constitutes Lashon ha'Ra as well.)



    (b) One who degrades others because of what they lack.



    (c) One who constantly scoffs at specific items or actions (because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else and knows better what course of action to take).



    (d) One who wastes time with non-productive talk and activities (Bitul Torah).



    (e) A joker who tries to attract attention by making jokes. (This manifestation of Letzanus often occurs as a result of inebriation.)



    2. CHANIFIM (nine categories):

    (a) One who sees his friend sin and encourages him, and tells his friend that that he did nothing wrong.



    (b) One who sees his friend sin and compliments him for his good qualities and ignores his evil deeds (see previous Insight).



    (c) One who sees his friend sin and compliments him in private, encouraging his friend to continue to sin but not encouraging others to follow his ways.



    (d) One who sees another person sin and becomes friendly with him and joins his company of friends.



    (e) One who praises his friends or relatives for good deeds that they did not actually perform, in order to enhance his relationship with them.



    (f) One who sees someone sin and does not rebuke him when his rebuke would be effective.



    (g) One who sees someone sin and does not rebuke him when he is in doubt whether or not his rebuke would be effective to stop the sinner from sinning.



    (h) One is present when a person sins, and although he knows for certain that the sinner will not accept his rebuke, he does not even protest the action. Although he knows that his protest will not have an effect on the sinner, he must show others his disapproval of the act.



    (i) One honors a sinner who happens to be wealthy or powerful, and honors him as he honors other wealthy or powerful people who are not sinners. (Chanufah in this case is permitted when there is a risk that the wealthy or powerful sinner will cause him to suffer damage if he does not give the Rasha the honor he thinks he deserves.)



    3. SHAKRANIM (9 categories):

    (a) One who lies in order to steal from or abuse others, thereby transgressing the prohibitions of "Lo Sigzol" and "Lo Soneh."



    (b) One who lies in order to present himself as someone's friend so that at some point in the future he will be able to steal from him or swindle him.



    (c) One who lies in order to receive some future benefit that he would not have received otherwise.



    (d) One who lies (even though he causes no harm) simply because he is accustomed to lying, or because he does not clarify the facts before he repeats them. (This is permitted "Mipnei ha'Shalom," for the sake of peace; see Talmud Yevamos 65b.)



    (e) One who acts towards others differently than the way he feels inside, even though he does not openly lie.



    (f) One who promises to give something to (or do something for) his friend and does not fulfill his promise. If he offers his friend something small or easy, even if he does not make a promise to give it he still must keep his word.



    (g) One who tells others about the way he helped someone else, when he really did not help (Geneivas Da'as).



    (h) One who praises himself, or accepts praise, for good traits that he does not possess.



    (i) A person who occasionally lies regarding issues that in no way affect others, but merely because he derives benefit (such as attention) from his lies.



    4. MESAPREI LASHON HA'RA (6 categories):

    (a) A person who slanders someone else with a false claim.



    (b) One who slanders others by telling the truth about what the other person's parents did or what the other person himself did before he repented, in order to cause others to lose esteem for him.



    (c) One who informs his friend about the slander that someone else said about him (Rechilus).



    (d) One who does something that causes others to suspect him of speaking Lashon ha'Ra. For example, he relates his friend's good deeds in the presence of his friend's enemy (Avak Lashon ha'Ra).



    (e) One who speaks "Nivul Peh" -- immoral speech and expletives.



    (f) One who constantly complains about others and judges them unfavorably (Nirgan).

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  • KT

    Kayo, Tokyo -13 years ago

    Ira Shamaim
    Baruch HaShem

    As it is said, Aaron brought the people closer to Torah, not Torah to the people. From your shiur, I can see why Today's so called
    "Egalitarian enlightenment movement" failed and had lead to assimilation. You remind me the True source of my life and Ira Shamaim.

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  • T

    TK -14 years ago

    Sandy Path to Inspiration
    Beautiful essay. Uplifts the lowly, and allows one to see the 'dignity' in ones struggles and dark moments.

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  • MR

    maya rondel -14 years ago

    sandy path to inspiration
    Your essays always inlight the every chapter of Torah and realy helpful to comprehens the essence of Judaism!

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  • S

    sa -14 years ago

    very inspiring
    thank you.

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  • S

    s -14 years ago

    thanks
    WOW THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT STORIES I'VE HEARD IN A VERY LONG TIME

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  • RC

    Rabbi Craig -14 years ago

    Sandy Path to Inspiration
    I find the timing of this essay very appropriate, coming on the heels of the announcement of the discovery of water on the moon.

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  • R

    Rivky -14 years ago

    Flattery of a proud gay family?
    What do you think of accepting and teaching the child of a openly, proud gay family. Flattering them, because they give a tremendous amount of money to everyone that they come in contact with. The lubavitch school their child attends, the shluchim that they attend? They are openly gay men, living together and proud, adopted three children, consider themselves frum, besides for one "small" mitzva, and tell others about their situation. How can we "flatter them" by accepting them into our school's, even if the child is "Jewish?"

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  • S

    simie -14 years ago

    thanks
    Thank you for all the effort you put into this lecture. The main point of the lecture really strengthens those of us who have to deal with explaining very carefully to some of our people that their spouse or children are not Jewish. This is a big nisayon in Shlichus as sometimes it is the "big Gvir" who can take your Moisad to the next step etc...In the end honesty with true empathy are the only way to go.

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  • M

    motti -14 years ago

    music
    where can i find that amazing music at the end of the shiur? the Poltava Niggun played on the Piano with such emotion is quite moving.

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  • M

    motti -14 years ago

    music
    where can i find that amazing music at the end of the shiur? the Poltava Niggun played on the Piano with such emotion is quite moving.

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  • C

    Chana -14 years ago

    Music
    The music at the end is lovely. Who's the musician?

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  • C

    Chutzpis -14 years ago

    Max Dimond
    He was a wise man, Mr. Dimond a"h. But he did not grasp this component of human history, and of Jewish history, articulated in this class.

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  • B

    b.kardenisa -14 years ago

    agrippa
    what is max dimont's,opinion of this?

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  • E

    Elki -14 years ago

    New territory
    As always thank you to David and Eda for enabling this webcast to be seen all over.
    Every shiur has chiddushim, eclecting thinking and out-of-the-box interpretations and insights. This was something new yet again. It was a wonderful and educational lesson in Jewish History, as well as an intellectually stimulating view of the story.

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  • י

    יעקב -14 years ago

    המון תודות! אגרויסען ישר כוח

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  • R

    Rochel -14 years ago

    thank you

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  • B

    Berel -14 years ago

    To Dov
    And how about when there is no king at all? Till king Saul there was still a mitzvah of Hakhel!
    The truth is that the Torah does not explicitely mention it needs a king. I beleive some opinions say that the gadol hador can do it as well if there is no king or no kosher king.

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    • YHE

      yechi hamelech ezagui -7 years ago

      Yes. the Rebbe MHM mention meny times that hakhel can be done by others also. not only by the king. see lekutei sichos val.34 p'189 footnote 20 . lekutei sichos val. 19 p'326 footnote 40.
      on the other hand the Rebbe MHM Explained meny times way in the mishna & ranbam it is mention that Hakhel is to be done by the king, see letter from 25 elul 5747, letter fron dayd of slichos 5726 & more

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  • D

    Dov -14 years ago

    Hakhel
    according to Halacha, when the jewish people are ruled by a non-jewish kind, how is Hakhel to be done? who is to read the Torah?

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  • ML

    Meira Lerman -14 years ago

    Answers to Questions and Exercises
    1. Why did Agrippa cry when he read the Torah?
    First let’s see what a king supposed to read during Hakel- only few chapters from the Torah: Devarim, Va’eschanan, Re’eh and Ki Savo. People had to hear their king reading “Hear, O Israel”, laws of tithe, blessing and curses and law of appointing a king.
    Agrippa became a victim of circumstances, as high standards of appointing the king were violated. He was a sensitive soul and feared G-d, so at that moment he might think: “It’s not about me. It’s about curves and turns of whole tragedy of Jewish history that brought me to this position. Don’t listen to me; listen to the Torah I am reading for you!”
    2. Was Agrippa Jewish?
    He was Jewish enough to be a legal citizen because his Mom was Jewish but according to the law he must not be a president because he was born in Canada… sorry I confused a scenery from another play. Agrippa was appointed by Rome to be a king of Israel and he had nothing to do with the leaders of USA.
    Was this Agrippa I or Agrippa II?
    We have several opinions for this matter, but strict logic dictates that it was Agrippa II because if we are talking about cause and effect, whom else the Sages (whoever called them) could praise? Agrippa I passed away about 25 years before destruction of the Second Temple. (Nothing was said about a mine with postpone effect)
    3. What was the sin of Jews who called Agrippa their brother – according to Rashi and according to Tosafos?
    I might be wrong but I think Rashi and Tosafos emphasized different dimensions of the same cause. Rashi makes a point on a Herod’s descendant and clear pedigree and emphasized that Jews are liable for destruction because “they substitute the true source of protection with the delusional one.” Sotah comes closer to details of the whole picture and shows how “technically” we might be our own worst enemies.
    4. Trace the genealogy of the kings from Antipater until Agrippa II.
    I’ll try: Antipater, non-Jew politician, gave birth to Herod. Herod and his wife Mariamne, from Hasmoneans family gave birth to Avestabulos, Avestabulos and his wife Brediker (forgot her name) gave birth to Agrippa I, Agrippa I with his Jewish wife gave birth to Agrippa II. Sorry if I messed up something.
    5. Are you a flatterer?
    Is it about “false reassuring” and ideal-minded “approving”? As a fresh painted nurse I try to annihilate all “non-therapeutic techniques” from my practice!
    Do you ever say insincere things to people just to please them?
    When greeting a very old person, what you suppose to say? Nu?
    “Oh, you look so great!”
    What is your ordinary reaction on your child’s failure?
    “I am so proud of you, my sonny!”
    When did you last hear “Oh, it’s so delicious!”? In front of the guests? And what was the taste?
    6. Do you think flattery is ever appropriate?
    Do you need more examples? I am not talking about our beloved president and his court that makes the king.
    7. Do others flatter you?
    There are three levels of test: with fire, with water and with fanfares. They say that the last one is the harshest.
    How does that make you feel about them?
    Poor Agrippa: he past two first (remember his “YOFFE ASEESE KOLE…”) and failed on the last one and his people as well. I didn’t…, as my harshest test is in ahead.
    8. Do you think flattery can take you far in life?
    Eventually.
    If only I had better control over emotions and learn how to ZIP IT UP!
    I like in Tehillim: “Kindness and truth have met, righteousness and peace have kissed.” And then: “Truth will sprout from earth, and righteousness will peer from heaven…”

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  • M

    Michal -14 years ago

    Thanks
    Thank you Rabbi Jacobson for another wonderful shiur. I wish you and your family a good and sweet year.

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  • A

    admin -14 years ago

    to chaya and maya
    just refresh the page and press play

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  • C&M

    chaya & maya -14 years ago

    can't connect?
    we have joined in the past. not sure why we cant run the video.. any advice? we've hit the play icon..

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  • I

    Isaac -14 years ago

    Is this King Agrippa? Agrippa 1 or 2?
    Thanks

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • December 1, 2013
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  • 28 Kislev 5774
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