Jan 22, 2014

The Medium Must Match the Message

The story is told of a maggid (itinerant preacher) who gave inspiring speeches but did not live by the standards he preached.  However, people did not know of the indiscretions in his private life.

He was once invited to speak in Brisk.  His personal conduct became known to R' Chaim Soloveitchik who did not allow the man to speak.  The maggid tried to convince him otherwise saying, "But every thing I say is true! I quote the sources and the stories and points that I make are all appropriate to my audience!"

R' Chaim did not accept this reasoning.  "Even kosher meat, shechted by an expert shochet and soaked and salted according to halacha, becomes treif if cooked in a treife pot!"

This story left me wondering, when do we apply "kabel es ha'emes mimi she'omro" (accept the truth from the one who says it)? If what the maggid taught was true, how did his imperfect personal life which was not known to his audience, affect his message? Maybe because his words did not "emanate from his heart" and therefore, they would not enter the hearts of his listeners.

to be continued

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