Picture of the author
Picture of the author
War bannerWar banner

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.

Please leave your comment below!

  • SC

    Shmuli c. -12 years ago


    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).

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • 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.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • 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.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • 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!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    sa -14 years ago

    very inspiring
    thank you.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • December 1, 2013
  • |
  • 28 Kislev 5774
  • |

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein in loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov and in merit of Yetta Alta shula, Aliya, Schottenstein

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author