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Mishlei Tools-Hachodesh-Shevet Mussar-Responding to a Chiddush

The 24th of Adar is Yahrtzeit of Rav Eliyahu (ben Shlomo Avraham HaKohen) Ha’Itamari of Izmir, author of Shevet Mussar (according to some – 22 Adar) (c1650-1729). According to family tradition, he is descended from Itamar ben Aharon HaKohen. In his book, Ve’lo Od Ela, Rav Eliyahu describes the earthquake that shook Izmir, on a Shabbos in 1688, and the many miracles that occurred to the Jews of the city. All of the synagogues and batei medrash in the city remained intact, while all of the Moslem mosques collapsed. An hour after the earthquake, a huge fire burst forth and spread throughout the city, destroying what remained of it. However, the fire ceased at the Jewish Quarter, and did not penetrate it. His other works included Me’il Tzeddakah on the importance of giving tzeddakah, Medrash Talpiyot, Yado BaKol, Medrash Eliyahu, Aggadas Eliyahu, a two-volume commentary on the aggados of the Talmud Yerushalmi, Chut shel Chessed on the Chumash, Dana Peshara, on Shir HaShirim, Rus and Esther, almost 40 sefarim in all.


The Fifteenth Suggested Self-Imposed Protective Boundary:

A person should not debate on any matter he hears about this world; all he will accomplish is the waste of his time. In fact, even when he hears a new and creative idea about Torah, even if he is not comfortable with the idea, he should not search for arguments to contradict the idea and say, “this is not true!” He should only express his deepest gratitude for the person sharing his Chiddush with him. He should even find ways to help the person prove his point.

It is a full who immediately responds to any new idea with an argument. This is disgusting behavior, which leads a person to not only deny how he has benefited from others, but even, eventually, to deny how he benefits from God. This is alluded to in the verse, “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright (Mishlei-Proverbs 15:7).” [Shevet Mussar, Chapter 14:15]

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