Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Narrow Vision

לרפואת איתן יהודה בן דבי
חיה רייזל בת דינה
בנימין יצחק יוסף לייב בן פייגע
בתוך שח"י

The gemara in Sotah [47a] relates that Rebbi Yehoshua ben Prachya and his student [old manuscripts say that it was Yoshke] were at an inn. The hospitality was very welcoming so R' Yehoshua said כמה נאה אכסניא זו - How beautiful is this hospitality. His student thought that the Rebbi was referring to the married female innkeeper and opined "Her eyes aren't pretty". R' Yehoshua became aghast, told him that his mind is in the gutter, took out 400 shofaros and excommunicated him. He pleaded to be accepted back but his Rebbi refused. In the end he caused many many people to become sinners. עיין שם!

From this gemara we learn how severe a sin it is to look at a woman in order to determine if she is beautiful. Yoshke just looked at her and R' Yehoshua said "That is what you are thinking about!!" and excommunicated him. What is the big deal??!! Don't many of us do it all the time?? 

The fact that so many people do it so frequently doesn't make it any less of a sin. 

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz in his Sichos Mussar derives another insight from this gemara. We can understand that the student had his eyes on this woman - but why did the student think that the Rebbi was thinking along those lines??

From here a HUUUUGE LESSON FOR LIFE: People think that if they think a certain way - then everyone thinks that way. Yoshke figured that if I am checking out the hostess then Rebbi must be doing so as well. This is called in modern psychobabble "projection". People project their perspective on others. The greater a person is the more he is able to extract himself from his narrow perspective and see that there are MANY other ways of viewing things. This is a boon to mental and spiritual health. 

ואין כאן המקום להאריך בזה!