הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך
It seems unusual that the word תוכחה is repeated for emphasis. Horav Dovid Feinstein ז‘‘ל suggests that the focus is not on the one who has done the aveiroh and is being reproved, but rather on the מוכיח - the one who is reproving. The repetition is conveying that one should first go through introspection reflecting on his own behavior in order to ensure that his own behavior is above reproach.
Criticism is rarely accepted if we are so far from being the models of virtue. When the recipient sees that the one who is admonishing him is concerned for his benefit with no ulterior motives, then the words have a better chance of reaching the listener’s heart to inspire him to change and improve.
Aharon HaKohen exemplified this concept. Everyone loved and revered him, even those who were on the receiving end of his תוכחה. His virtue was manifest in his total personality and, therefore, he received the respect of people because he deserved it. Aharon HaKohen did not simply give mussar; he represented the essence of mussar! Just by seeing his personal example, many were inspired to perform teshuvah.
As parents, one of our responsibilities in chinuch is to present proper תוכחה. If a child would respond to our תוכחה by saying, “But you don’t do it,” or “You’re not like that,” we would consider it chutzpah and we may not allow it. More polite children may not say it, but they may think it!
Rav Dovid Feinstein’s explanation of the posuk and the lesson of how to ensure that our reproof is effective must serve as a valuable reminder to the directive we have to always be the best role models. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a confusing message that will not inspire our children to greatness. Always modeling the behavior we want to see is the most effect tool for proper chinuch.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School