Parshas Kedoshim - Healthy Self-Esteem

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 05/09/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.

The Pasuk in this week's Parsha tells us that when one rebukes his fellow Jew, 'ולא תשא עליו חטא.' The simple explanation is that one should be careful to give rebuke in a way where you will not sin, like by embarrassing him.

The Chavas Ya'eer & other commentators explain in a homiletic twist that  ולא תשא עליו' חטא'  means, "don't raise the sin over him." Don't say 'how could you do such a terrible thing, you are such a wicked person.' Rather, lift him up over the sin. Say 'you are such a special person it's not befitting for someone like you to do something like that.'

Perhaps we can take this theme one step further. Not only in regards to rebuking others do we have to be very careful to refrain from derogatory comments and only give positive reinforcement, but also in how we view ourselves. If a person views himself as being a bad person who has sinned in the past, then when more tests come his way, the person might say 'I'm such a bad person already so what difference does it make if I sin more.' Or, 'I'm a not a holy person so my learning, davening, & Mitzvos aren't valuable.'
That is a terrible mistake! 

The correct outlook is to say 'I am a sincere and good person. Although I am not perfect and have my shortcomings, I am seeking to grow and change for the better.' With that outlook, when one is tested with challenges one will be able to say 'no I am not going to give in to the Yetzer Hara because the act that he wants me to do is not befitting someone of my caliber!’

Let us all take this lesson from the Parsha to heart. To always give positive, constructive criticism and for ourselves to always have a healthy self-esteem. This will Iy"H help us overcome a lot of the tests & challenges that the Yetzer Hara sends our way.

[Editor’s note: This was Shaya’s motto. Shaya lived and breathed this every second of his life. Always trying to find the good in every person no matter how far they may have strayed from the path. May we all try to find the good in everyone we meet, and thereby bring an aliya to Shaya’s Neshama.]