I have the pleasure of teaching the final text course given in the senior year of the rabbinic program. Of course, that also makes me the instructor who gives them their last final examwhich always engenders a certain amount of anxiety toward the end of the semester.
I enjoy this class, not only because it gives me an opportunity to get to know the graduating seniors, but also because it gives me the right to pontificate for an entire semester right before we launch these new rabbis out into the world.
Together, we study a variety of biblical commentaries, all written within the last 200 years or so. In Jewish terms, this means that they qualify as having been composed "just yesterday."
This evening I would like to remind our ordinands of one text that we studied together only a few weeks ago. It is a commentary on the verse in Vayikra 19:17
Do not despise your brother in your heart. Reproach your companion, but do not hold his sin against him.
The Avnei Ezel, a Polish rabbi living during the early 20th century, asked an interesting question about the various elements of this verse in the Torah: Why, he asked, do the words "Do not despise your brother in your heart," appear in the same verse with the words, "Reproach your companion?" Like most rabbinical commentators, the Avnei Ezel was prepared with his own answer. This is what he said--
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