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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Rebuke And Reproof

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"Faithful are the wounds of a friend," says the Old Testament proverb (Proverbs 27:6 ), doubtless referring to reproof. A mild rebuke administered for a breach of etiquette, or for an act of disrespect, was called "haḳ padah" a severe rebuke, as for contempt of authority, was known as "nezifah." In both cases, however, the offense involved is unintentional. They are thus distinguished from cases that are punishable by the declaration of the Ban , nezifah involving a mild form of ostracism (see Excommunication ).

A rebuff to a friend for a breach of etiquette is mentioned in a case in which R. Ḥ iyya called at the house of Raba, but neglected to wipe his feet before he sat on the couch. Desiring to express disapproval of his conduct, Raba rebuked him indirectly, propounding to him a legal question (Shab. 46a, b).

R. Johanan expressed indignation because his disciple Eleazar lectured in the bet ha-midrash on a certain subject without recognizing the authority of his master (Yeb. 96b). R. Joseph reproached R. Ze' era because he had insinuated that the former had had so many masters that he was apt to confound his sources he indignantly asserted that his only master was R. Judah (Ḥ ul. 18b).

The manner of showing disapprobation is illustrated by R. Sheshet, who stretched out his neck snakelike toward R. Ḥ isda for omitting certain portions which the former thought should be inserted when saying grace (Ber. 49a). R. Judah I., in his desire to maintain strict discipline among his disciples, rebuked them whenever they fell short in respect for his authority, although their lapses were unwitting. R. Simeon, son of Rabbi, and Bar Ḳ appara were studying together when they came to a difficult passage. R. Simeon suggested that it be submitted to his father, whereupon Bar Ḳ appara remarked, "How can Rabbi solve it?" The next time Bar Ḳ appara appeared before Rabbi the latter turned to him and said, "I do not recognize thee." Bar Ḳ appara considered this as a nezifah, though Rabbi probably intended only a haḳ padah.

A similar incident occurred when Rabbi ordered that his disciples should not study in the street. R. Ḥ iyya and his two cousins disregarded the order. When Ḥ iyya next went to see Rabbi the latter said, "Art thou not wanted outside?" Ḥ iyya understood this question as a rebuke, and remained away thirty days (M. Ḳ . 16a, b see Gen. R. 33:3 ).

A delicate question presents itself to the preacher as to how far he may remonstrate with a friend in regard to impropriety of conduct. Indeed, R. Ṭ arfon doubted the advisability of forcing the issue, since few are willing to accept a rebuke. "If a preacher says, ' Take out the mote from thy eye,' a friend retorts, ' Take out the beam from thine own eye' " (comp. Matthew 7:3 ). Rab said a preacher should remonstrate with his friend until the latter resents violently R. Joshua said, until he curses but R. Johanan thinks the limit should be a mere rebuke. They all refer to Jonathan's remonstrance with Saul in regard to David (' Er. 16b). See Anathema .

J. J. D. E.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Rebuke And Reproof'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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