Rav Avigdor Miller on Calling People Fools



Sometimes we see in the gemara that the chachomim in Eretz Yisroel would refer to the Jews in Bavel as בבלאי טפשאי, those foolish Babylonians. How does that fit together with the idea that you’re not supposed to ridicule people?


הני בבלאי טפשאי, “These foolish Babylonians.” When the chachmai haTorah in Eretz Yisroel wanted to emphasize a good practice or a good attitude, they had to contend with the fact that some people in Bavel did it differently or thought differently. And so sometimes foolishness has to be called out form what it is. So if you must point out that it’s tipshus, foolishness, it doesn’t mean that all the Bavliyim are tipshim; it doesn’t mean that Rava and Abaye were tipshim, no. But there are בבלאי טפשאי. You have to point it out, you have to be clear-cut, outspoken! 

If people have wrong attitudes or wrong deeds, you have to say so, why not? Let say, if people in America, let’s say Modern Orthodox Jews, who come together with agunos – agunah conventions, so you say הני אמירקאנה טפשאי, “Those foolish Americans.” They come together and praise all the agunos. Some of these agunos are self-made agunos. How did they become agunos? She gets angry at her husband, and she calls in the police. So she drives her husband out of the house, and the police issue an order a protection. She throws her husband out of the house. Should he be happy? Certainly he doesn’t want to give her a gett. I don’t blame him. “It’s my house.” She drove him out of his house. So “הני עגונת טפשאי”, and “בבלאי טפשאי” . Certainly, you have to condemn wickedness.

There’s a certain synagogue in Manhattan, where the rabbi hired two women as interns. Do you know what interns means? They spoke, and men were listening to them. Only bad things resulted from that. Later, after a couple of years, he stopped it, but it was too late already. It’s a terrible thing. A tipesh! A fool! That’s how you can describe that rabbi. What else should I say about him? He’s a shoiteh! Worse than a shoiteh! So we have to say clearly, the reformers are worse than shoitim. Some rabbis are even worse than shoitim. The ones who propose gay marriage – it’s hard to find adjectives even to describe that. We should say something about it. Absolutely!
TAPE # E-234