Thursday, March 24, 2011

On the Parsha (a few weeks late)

On Parshas Tezaveh, a few weeks ago, I actually meant to mention that for me the quintessential source for the extent of privacy in Jewish life is the Gemarah in Pesachim 112a on the posuk "V'nishma kolo b'vo'o el hakodesh" that the bells on the M'eel (jacket) of the Kohen Gadol (High Preist) would announce his coming into the Haichal (Great Hall of the Temple). The Gemara says that we see from here "a person shouldn't enter even his own house suddenly (without knocking) etc." . The Kohen Gadol was "boss" in the BH'M and still had the bells to announce himself. A person who is the "boss" of his own home must knock to announce his presence. We are not meant to know everything that goes on behind our backs. We are not meant to "catch" those in our households but rather instill in them the morality and decency to do what's right on their own.


  1. While that is certainly true, the sources on kashrut mention the idea of creating mirtat (fear) among the non-Jews involved. Now granted, this doesn't mean the mashgiach should wear a hockey mask and yell 'boo', but only that they should fear being caught at any moment. Privacy for one's household is appropriate where there is no risk of someone engaging in non-kosher practices for person gain or lack of knowledge.

  2. A good point. However, a proper balance must be struck. We still must trust and instill trust. And we have the obligation, unless we have some evidence or knowledge to the contrary, to believe that the person is doing the correct thing. This is referred to as a "chezkas kashrut".
    Of course as parents we have to act as swift as possible to protect and care for our children. And as it is really the parents house by all "rights" we as parents can do whatever we wish with or without proof. There really is nothing that officially is private especially if there is a valid suspicion of wrongdoing. BUT, I repeat, we do have to instill trust and foster a proper balance.