Moshe begins his five
week farewell speech to the Bnei Yisroel by saying, "These
are the words" (Devarim 1:1).
that because Moshe was delivering words of rebuke he expressed himself
in a veiled manner and only mentions the negative incidents by allusion.
(Rabbi Meir Leibush Malbim) once delivered a fiery sermon on Shabbat
about the importance of shmirat Shabbat (not desecrating
the Shabbat). The very next morning a prominent, wealthy
member of the congregation burst into the home of the Malbim,
livid with rage.
"What right do
you have to insult me in public?" he yelled at the Malbim.
"Don't you know
that embarrassing your fellow man in public is worse than all the
desecration of Shabbat that goes on in the whole world? Don't
you know I am one of the greatest philanthropists in the community
and that a sizeable portion of your wages comes from my pocket?"
He ranted on like this for some time.
Finally, when the
Malbim was able to squeeze in a word edgewise, all he said
was, "Your hat looks so good on you. Did you have it custom-made?"
The congregant looked
quizzically at the Malbim, wondering why he responded with
a comment that had nothing to do with the conversation.
Irritated, he replied,
"No, I did not have it custom-made. Just like everyone else,
I went into a hat store and tried on a few hats until I found
the one that suited me and I bought it."
said the Malbim, "what do you want from me? On the previous
Shabbat I spoke about the importance of tzedaka (charity),
and I also had an irate visitor on Sunday, a wealthy member of our
community who is very miserly."
I have no particular person in mind when I speak. Every week the
people who fall short in the subject that I raise, come to me and
complain that I embarrass them. I make different speeches on a variety
of mitzvot, meaning to attack no one. Those who feel that
the speech fits them, are like those who choose a hat from the rack
that fits them perfectly."
Moshe spoke in a
cloaked and indirect manner. No doubt those who realized that
he mentioned their failing picked their "custom-made hat."
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