“And it was in the fortieth year on the first day of the eleventh month, that Moshe spoke to the B’nei Yisrael” (1:3).
This teaches us, says Rashi, that he made a point of rebuking them close to the date of his death. And he goes on to give four reasons as to why that is the right thing to do; one of them ‘so that one should not need to rebuke once and then to rebuke again’.
The Toras Moshe explains that when a person is told off for doing something wrong, his immediate reaction is to justify his actions. This results in the rebuker having to counter his arguments, to prove his self-justifications groundless. And this in turn, only leads to strife. Remaining silent, on the other hand, is not the answer, since that will only cause the sinner to repeat his sins.
The only solution is to delay the rebuke until shortly before one’s death, when the sinner will not feel the need to justify his actions, and the one rebuke will suffice to repair the damage.
Pesach ben Ephraim Shimon z”l
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