Sedra VaYeShev, 120 words: When Not to be Nice to People

37:4 and they could not [NOT would not] speak to him peaceably (ArtScroll, but I prefer – “pleasantly”)

Why could they not speak to him pleasantly?

There are two issues here: the Halacha and also their personal feelings. If they were following Halacha they are to be praised. However, if they were merely responding to their passions and envy, this is a great shortcoming.

Were they too angry and unable to control themselves? Or does the Halacha prescribe that they not talk to him at all or that they talk to him unpleasantly?

Rashi explains that from (their ostensibly – ArtScroll) disgraceful behaviour we see their virtue; they were not two faced.

So they did the right thing (they were not duplicitous) but for the wrong reasons (their behaviour is described as disgraceful, they were motivated for the wrong reasons)

The sin of hating one’s brother in one’s heart, does not prohibit hating but hating secretly, not disclosing one’s hatred and it’s cause [RaMBaM DeOs 6:5]. In fact broaching with a friend the shortcomings of that friend, is an intrinsic component of the Mitzvah of helping people to recognise and correct their weaknesses and wrongdoings.

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