Categorized | Ask the Rabbi, Columnists

Here’s a question; do you have an answer?

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Dear Friends,
I would like to put before you a question I recently received, and, before I offer an answer, I would be interested in challenging the readers to get your feedback and thoughts about the following query.
I’m looking forward to your responses!
– Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, yfried@sbcglobal.net
Hi Rabbi,
I understand there is a Torah imperative to give to one’s fellow Jew and I had the following question:
Is the obligation to give to my friend what he wants or is the obligation to give to my friend what would be best for his service of Hashem? (God)
Scenario 1:
Let’s say my Jewish friend (religious or secular) appreciates being praised for his talents and abilities, such as being smart or handsome, because he defines his value based on these characteristics. If my obligation is to give him what he wants, then it would seem to be advisable that I praise him for being smart and handsome.
But if the obligation is to give him what would be best for his service of Hashem (in the case of my secular Jewish friend, the “potential” service of Hashem) then it would seem to be advisable that I not praise him as my praise would simply reinforce the false notion that his value and success is a function of results, when from a Jewish perspective, his true value and success is a function of his effort in performing Hashem’s will.
Indeed, according to this understanding, there would seem to be little room for any praise from a Torah perspective, as praising my friend’s results would be reinforcing this false notion of success and praising my friend’s effort in performing Hashem’s will is very difficult to do as I can’t see his effort and therefore don’t know how much effort he is putting forth!
Scenario 2:
My Jewish friend (religious or secular) comes over to my house and would like something to eat. Let’s assume he would much prefer that I give him cake/cookies over salad/fruit as he loves indulging in sugar and carbohydrates. If the obligation is to give him what he wants, then it would follow that I should give him the cake/cookies.
But if the obligation is to give him what would be best for his service of Hashem ((in the case of my secular Jewish friend, the “potential” service of Hashem) then it would seem to follow that I should give him the salad/fruit.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Thank you for your time and effort!
Sammy

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