SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Between Teachers and Students
Loshon hora initiated by children and accepted as fact by their believing parents is often a cause of major injustice. It happens all too often that one or two key students in a class arbitrarily take a disliking to their teacher and stories are exaggerated and circulated. Well-meaning parents accept their children’s accounts of the going-on at school and before long the teacher finds himself struggling to defend his position.
As every adult knows, student dissatisfaction is not necessarily an indication of a teacher’s inadequacy as an educator. The students’ version of a situation must be considered but not accepted as fact. A thorough and discreet investigation – one which does not cause the teacher embarrassment – must be conducted before a teacher is declared at fault.
A teacher too, must avoid believing accusations directed by students against one another. Here, too, an investigation is called for, and unless the facts can be established, no action should be taken.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
Meriting the Light
The Torah states: “… and they [the judges] shall judge the people with righteous judgment” (Devarim 16:18). Midrash Tanchuma comments:
R’ Yehudah ben R’ Shalom said: [This teaches] that the judges should strive to find merit for their people before the Holy One, Blessed is He. From whom do we learn this? From Gidon ben Yoash. In his days, Israel was in distress and G-d sought someone who could speak their merit [and thereby arouse Divine compassion for them] but no one could be found, for the generation was poor in its fulfillment of mitzvos and performance of good deeds. As soon as Gidon was deemed worthy of having found merit for them, a Heavenly angel revealed himself to him. Thus it is written, “And an angel of Hashem appeared to him … and he said, ‘Go with this strength of yours’ ” (Shoftim 6:12-14), meaning, “with the strength of the merit which you found for My children.’’
This, then, is the meaning of “… and they [the judges] shall judge the people with righteous judgment,’’ i.e. that they should strive to find merit for the generation.
The above, too, underscores the greatness of finding merit for the Jewish people before Hashem. One who does so becomes a receptacle for the spiritual light of the sacred Heavenly sanctuary which is called the Sanctuary of Merit; for it is there that the merits of Israel are mentioned, as stated in Sefer Chareidim.