In this week’s Parsha we come across the commandment, “You shall rebuke your fellow man” (19:17).
Although the Torah says this, one is allowed to do so only if done out of concern for the rebukee’s welfare. When someone tries to criticize or rebuke someone, his words must be sincere. The Chachamim say that only those words that come from one heart will enter another heart. Therefore, if your words of correction are not an expression of your inner feelings of care and concern for the welfare of the other person, you will not have a positive influence on that person.
There is another reason for this Halacha, however. If your words are indeed not coming from the heart, your motives and reasons for rebuking the other person are not entirely pure. If that is the case, you are guilty of insulting the other person’s honor and causing him pain for your personal pleasure. This is a serious offense.
Before rebuking someone, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What are my reasons behind this act? Are my motives really so pure that I am rebuking this person solely because I wish to show him the difference between what is good and what is evil? To what degree do I want to rebuke this person because I feel a sense of power in telling him off? To what degree do I derive inappropriate pleasure from making him uncomfortable?”
We do have a Mitzva to correct others, but motivation is an essential ingredient. Build up your inner feelings so they project only love for others. Then your motivation will be pure and you will have a positive influence on others.