Vayeitzei - Mussar with regards to Mussar
Chananya Weissman


מוסר בענין מוסר

[כט:ד-ז] (ד) וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם יַעֲקֹב אַחַי מֵאַיִן אַתֶּם וַיֹּאמְרוּ מֵחָרָן אֲנָחְנוּ: (ה) וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַיְדַעְתֶּם אֶת לָבָן בֶּן נָחוֹר וַיֹּאמְרוּ יָדָעְנוּ: (ו) וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הֲשָׁלוֹם לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ שָׁלוֹם וְהִנֵּה רָחֵל בִּתּוֹ בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן: (ז) וַיֹּאמֶר הֵן עוֹד הַיּוֹם גָּדוֹל לֹא עֵת הֵאָסֵף הַמִּקְנֶה הַשְׁקוּ הַצֹּאן וּלְכוּ רְעוּ:

It should be noted that Yaacov didn't immediately launch into his criticism of the shepherds for apparently slacking off on the job, but first established friendly relations with them he called them "brothers", asked them a little something about themselves, and played Jewish geography with them. Only then did he deliver his mussar. Had he immediately criticized them, it's likely that they would have been offended and would have dismissed him without considering what he had to say, valid as it may have been.

The Torah is teaching us an important lesson in human relations. We must always be sensitive to how our message is being delivered and is likely to be received, and not simply be satisfied with the presumed validity of our opinions.

[I later heard this from R' Hershel Schachter in the name of R' Yaakov Kaminetzky.]