Reprove a neighbor who sins

The Literal Commandment

You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)

 

The literal commandment is that we should reprove [admonish, rebuke] our neighbor when they sin.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

Messiah is pictured in this commandment in that He is the Word (made flesh- John 1:4) by which we should admonish others. His Law and His life are the standard against which we measure ourselves and by which we can reprove our neighbor.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah fulfilled the commandment by reproving His neighbors:

He told the woman who was caught in adultery to stop sinning. (John 8:11)

He told the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years, "stop sinning". (John 5:14)

He told the scribes and the Pharisees to clean the inside of their "cups" so that the outside will become clean also. (Matthew 23:25-26)

 

Traditional Observance

This commandment is traditionally observed in rebuking others who do not behave appropriately either in their relationships with others or in their relationship with G-d.

Generally this is handled in a progressive manner:

First, rebuke the other gently in a private manner. If that does not work then progressively firmer language should be used in a public manner.

Messiah's instruction in Matthew 18:15-17 closely matches this traditional understanding.

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today and we should follow the instruction of Scripture in reproving our neighbor who sins.

 

It is far easier for us to see the sin in others than for us to see the sin in ourselves. It seems that, in His great wisdom and mercy, G-d has provided us with clear direction to reprove our neighbors who will in turn rebuke us when necessary.

In 1 Timothy 5:20 Paul informs us that "those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning."

In Galatians 6:1, Paul instructs us that that those who are spiritual should restore the sinner "gently".

 

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Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 16
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 1
  • Mishneh Torah Book Knowledge
  • Mishneh Torah Category 2- Personal Development
  • Reference Leviticus 19:17
  • Scripture Book Leviticus
  • Chapter 19
  • Verse 17
  • English You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.
  • Hebrew יז לֹא-תִשְׂנָא אֶת-אָחִיךָ, בִּלְבָבֶךָ; הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ, וְלֹא-תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא.
  • Greek 17 οὐ μισήσεις τὸν ἀδελφόν σου τῇ διανοίᾳ σου, ἐλεγμῷ ἐλέγξεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ οὐ λήμψῃ δι᾿ αὐτὸν ἁμαρτίαν.
  • Parashah 30- Kedoshim
  • Positive/Negative Positive
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 239
  • Sef. Hach. Command The religious duty to rebuke a fellow-Jew for improper behavior
  • Category Love
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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