On Talking and Hitting

The best-known episode of this week’s parsha introduces a lesson that Jewish leaders still have not been able to internalize: Some occasions call for talking, and some occasions call for hitting. Hitting when the situation calls for talking, and talking when the situation calls for hitting, are both very, very dangerous.

The other lesson (which I just found out was noted by Reb Nachman of Breslov in Likkutei Moharan 141:20 well before Teddy Roosevelt) that I really like in the parsha is that when you go to talk, people will listen better if you’re carrying a stick. The corollary is that just because you have a stick doesn’t mean you need to use it.

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