When should a rabbi or teacher speak out about non-halakhic
issues? How can all Jews, not just rabbis, most effectively
influence their brethren towards religious growth? Rabbi Carmy
outlines guiding principles that aid our thinking on these
We need to keep in mind the distinction between "direct
communication" that simply asserts a truth and
"indirect communication" that attempts to lead
the listener or student to an inner experience of a truth. The
centrality of halakhah in Judaism mandates that we
sometimes employ "direct communication" to teach
concrete norms. Additionally, dispensing with directness
entirely runs the risk of projecting a posture of ironic detachment.
On the other hand, "indirect communication" is both
a crucial approach to helping others internalize religious
inwardness and also proves helpful when trying to inspire others
to think for themselves about situations without easy answers.
The sociologist's idea of "role playing" reminds us
that societal understanding of a personís role impacts on the
effectiveness of various strategies that person might choose.
A Rabbi who takes a stand regarding politic issues may be
ineffective due to the communal view that he defies their
definition of the rabbinate.
We must learn to differentiate between those issues that
demand unequivocal "direct communication" and
those issues that require the indirect approach, either
because the subtler route enhances educational effectiveness
or because the issue in question does not lend itself to certain
to read the essay (PDF 1.4MB).