The November issue of Shma Now features the artwork of Nancy Current, and Archie Rand.
Its theme, Tochecha-Rebuke | תֹכֵחָה Rebuke: Criticism with love, is discussed here by the editor:
“When I initially began framing this issue of Sh’ma Now—in the midst of an ugly, rancorous election season—I was wondering about how, post-election, we might return to our more civilized selves. I began to think about how we speak with and about one another in general. Curating this issue of Sh’ma Now, I wanted to examine the various layers of tochecha—rebuke—and how we construct our lives to be able to hear and give tochecha with dignity. Several questions emerged: Why is listening—having an open heart—so essential to taking in a rebuke? How do we understand the verse from Pirkei Avot, “Do not judge your neighbor until you have stood in his or her place”? What are the situations when we need to rebuke, but can’t? Here’s what I curated for this issue“:
- Jhos Singer examines what tochecha teaches us about living Jewishly. Tochecha asks us to listen so that we may “fully absorb what we hear and then get busy clearing away the muck.” The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, teaches: “If you see another person doing something ugly, meditate on the presence of that same ugliness in yourself.”
- Rabbi David Ingber writes about rebuking Mordechai Gafni, the charismatic teacher who has been accused of sexual misconduct—among other offenses—repeatedly. But how do we rebuke someone who is impervious to tochecha? Ingber “leaned on the Talmud’s teaching that we should rebuke someone, even 100 times…”
- Ari Ezra Waldman gives us a lesson in the pros and cons of anonymous rebuke (on the Internet). While there are advantages of anonymity (such as providing shelter to marginalized individuals and groups) there are also dangers. Anonymity erodes certain essential norms of social interaction, dehumanizes victims, and erases context.
- Estelle Frankel writes about the art of giving tochecha, and what we should pay attention to: timing, tone, and intention. She suggests that we cultivate personal virtues, such as humility, empathy, courage, and non-defensiveness, to allow us to be more adept at giving and receiving tochecha.
- In NiSh’ma, our simulated Talmud page, Zohar Atkins, Joshua Ladon and Elana Hope Sztokman explore the verse from Proverbs, “One who rebukes an individual shall, in the end, find more favor than one who flatters with the tongue.” (28:23) We are challenged to take seriously the power of rebuke — especially toward wrongdoing in Jewish life.
- Consider and Converse is our robust guide to the issue and framework for discussion and learning. Take a look at the open-ended questions and bring them to your Shabbat table for discussion. Where do we turn for the courage to rebuke one of our own leaders? What do we do when rebuke is not heeded, when it makes no difference? How do you understand this verse from Pirkei Avot — “Do not judge your neighbor until you have stood in his place”— as a fundamental concept of giving a rebuke?
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