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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Hit 'em over the head.

In this week’s parsha, Hashem tells Yehoshua that if the Jewish people refuse to follow him into Eretz Yisroel, he should “take a rod and hit them on their head!” A bit harsh? The Torah’s word for rod is makal. The Ben Yehoyada explains that the three letters, mem, kuf and lamed are the final letters in the names of our three avos: Avraham, Yitzchok and Yisroel. The most effective way of getting a Jew to listen to Hashem is not by clobbering him over the head but rather by stressing the message: Know who you really are, a child of our avos.

The Rebbe often spoke about the idea that every Jew is inherently a prince and princess and the reason some don’t behave as such is only that they’ve forgotten who they are. It’s not right to hit a prince or princess over the head, but it’s also not right to allow them to behave inappropriately. So what’s the solution? Talk to them about who they really are and how beautiful it will be when they act accordingly. The Rebbe did this countless times. A Kohen wanted to marry a convert. His friends warned him of the gravity of the sin, but he wasn’t swayed. Then he came to the Rebbe. During the yechidus, the Rebbe pointed to all the books in his library and said, “I am proficient in all of these seforim and yet, I can never attain the status of Kohen that you are so fortunate to have.” This touched Kohen profoundly, reminding him of his roots. He didn’t marry the convert [1]. Whether it’s a Jew who never learned about their Jewish identity or a Jew who knows where he comes from but can’t seem to walk the walk, we use the same makal. Talk about their neshama and their connection with Hashem. Do this tirelessly and elaborately, until it penetrates their pintele yid. This kind of makal won’t beat them down, It’ll build them up to who they could be. G'mar Chasima Tova and Good Shabbos,  Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] As Heard from Mrs. Cirel Lipskier, whose father, Reb Berel Baumgarten, brought this man to the Rebbe.