Sharing ≠ Caring?| January 10, 2023
Jews possess the madreigah of sod, or preserving hiddenness
“And he said, ‘Do you plan to kill me as you have killed the Mitzri?’ Moshe became frightened and said, ‘Indeed, the matter has become known!’ ” (Shemos 2:14)
ashi explains that Moshe was understandably concerned for his safety. The midrash, however, says Moshe was frightened that since there were informers among the Jewish People, perhaps they weren’t worthy of redemption.
Maharal goes further and explains that one who possesses a loose tongue doesn’t deserve redemption.
Why is discretion a key value for redemption? (Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, based on Gur Aryeh)
“Thanks for sharing.”
It’s the fuzzy-wuzzy, feel-good, sign-off line of our generation. But sometimes I’m tempted to answer, “Thanks for not sharing.”
Seriously? Your detailed description of your family’s bout with the stomach flu? Did I really need to know all that? TMPI. Too Much Personal Information.
Still, I’ve been privileged to know a lot of non-sharers. There are some people who you just know will be discreet and respect your privacy. People like your sister, your best friend, your sheitelmacher. At least you hope so.
If you had to sum up the essence of a nation, you’d look to well-known behaviors, interests, and core characteristics.
Yet if you attempted this exercise on Klal Yisrael, the kernel of truth within us doesn’t belong to the world of open and obvious behavior. Rather, it stems from a level that’s deep and profound, and not given to display. (This is a truism of life. Things that are deeper and more profound remain hidden; things that are placed in the public domain and well-trafficked are never very deep.)
It’s in that deep, private place that Klal Yisrael shows its affinity for Hashem. And that personal connection to Hashem is what makes it inappropriate for Klal Yisrael to remain subjugated to any temporal power.
I’m privileged to have a great friend, let’s call her Adina, who’s one of these vaults. Everything you tell her gets locked away and is never released without permission. Not only that, you have no idea she even has the information, so careful is she about not sharing details. As a result, people tell her everything, friends, strangers, you name it. She’s got it all locked up safely — she could knock the socks off Fort Knox.
A while ago, I needed information about an orthodontic surgeon for one of my kids. I mentioned it to Adina, who said she knew someone who had a doctor they were happy with. Not such an easy thing to find…
Sure enough, a day later, she gave me the name and number of the doctor, including her reference’s opinion and experiences with him. I had another quick question about him, so she went back to her friend and got me the info.
End of story, right?
All other nations are governed by natural physical laws. Their existence is based on the externalities of the physical world. Therefore, there’s nothing particularly inappropriate for them to expose in the open.
For Klal Yisrael, however, such a tendency represents abandonment of a lofty role. Because Jews possess the madreigah of sod, or preserving hiddenness, when they seek out more degraded ways to live, they’re turning their backs on their defining characteristic. Opting out of kedushas Yisrael means opting out of the preservation of sod — rejecting the entire principle of discretion and tzniyus.
If Klal Yisrael’s position jettisons the middah of privacy, secrecy, and circumspection that enables its connection with Hashem, then it cannot sustain itself, and the nation finds itself under the thumb of oppressor after oppressor.
Nope, story continues. At a recent orthodontic checkup, I walked in with my son, and there was my coworker, Shira. We speak to each other a zillion times a day and were both surprised to see each other, as we hadn’t known our kids shared a doctor. It was fun to spend waiting time with a friend.
Plus, you guessed it, it turned out Shira had been the reference who’d recommended this doctor.
Adina could’ve easily told Shira that I was looking for an orthodontist, and could she put us in touch? Instead, she took the scenic detour that ensured both Shira and I retained our privacy, in case we didn’t want the other to know any salient identifying details.
I’ve learned a lot from Adina — the value of being a vault without a fault. And nope, she won’t let me share her real name.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 826)
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