The person with the red and bruised face was upset by the words of the Rabbis and protested; “why did you come to humiliate me, you are from those who study with Rabbi Shimon and fear nothing. If my sons that are behind me come, they will give you trouble, and why do you criticize me in public?”
They answered him with a quote explaining that the Torah is everywhere and if they fear to quote the Torah because of him then it would be as if they show contempt to the Holy One Blessed be He. The Torah needs to be studied and discussed in the open.
“בְּרֹאשׁ הֹמִיּוֹת תִּקְרָא בְּפִתְחֵי שְׁעָרִים בָּעִיר אֲמָרֶיהָ תֹאמֵר”
“At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:”
The man opened and said;
“מִי אֵל כָּמוֹךָ נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וְעֹבֵר עַל פֶּשַׁע לִשְׁאֵרִית נַחֲלָתוֹ לֹא הֶחֱזִיק לָעַד אַפּוֹ כִּי חָפֵץ חֶסֶד הוּא”
“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love (Chessed).”
While saying this verse, asking for mercy, he raised his hands and cried. At that moment his sons arrived, and the small one said, here I see that heavens sent help for my father.
The man was hurt by the ‘exposure’ of his sins by the righteous rabbis. He tried to protect his ego at the beginning by telling them that as students of Rabbi Shimon they are arrogant. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosei didn’t attack the person back. Instead, they quoted the Torah to bring the Light into the situation. When he heard the words of Torah from them, he immediately repented.
We should take criticism and rebukes from good and righteous people seriously. If one comes to us from the Light and not from his ego, then we should listen. God sends us to help all the time. All we need is to pay attention to the quiet and ‘loud’ messages.
When our ego gets hurt, we usually raise ‘shields’ of protection. The ego represents the negative side inside us. We try to push away attacks on our ego by making counter attacks. The wise thing to do is to absorb the pain of the ego and bring Light into the situation. When doing so, we get clarity and see the problem within ourselves. Then we take steps to follow the light and make the necessary corrections.
We connect to the verse from Micha 7:18 at the beginning of our morning prayer. It is a plea to God to forgive our sins, treat us with Chessed and accept our prayers as pure people.