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    The prophecy read
    as the Haftara
    for Parashat
    Sav comes from
    Sefer Yirmiyahu (7), and in this
    prophecy, Yirmiyahu criticizes
    the people for offering sacrifices
    without undergoing a process of
    repentance and change. Parashat Sav
    speaks about the sacrifices, and this
    prophecy reminds us that sacrifices
    alone do not suffice. In order to
    achieve G-d’s atonement and favor,
    the sacrifices must be accompanied
    by a genuine commitment to improve
    one’s conduct.
    Yirmiyahu here bemoans the fact that
    Beneh Yisrael had acted “according
    to the will of their evil heart” (7:25),
    and that when G-d sent prophets to
    criticize the people and urge them
    to repent, “they did not listen to
    Me, they did not turn their ear; they
    made their necks stiff, and were
    worse than their fathers” (7:26). The

    people refused to accept the prophets’
    rebuke, stubbornly persisting in their
    wayward conduct.
    Rav Avraham Pam (1913-2001), in
    discussing this Haftara, elaborates on
    the importance of humbly accepting
    criticizing. Our instinct upon hearing
    criticism is to reject it, to insist that we
    are correct and that we have no need
    to change anything. But if we never
    accept criticism, we will never grow.
    There are many improper things that
    we do of which we are unaware until
    somebody draws our attention to the
    fact that we act wrongly. Thus, we
    cannot possibly hope to change and
    become better if we refuse to accept
    criticism, to listen with an open mind
    and ear when people point out to us
    our mistakes and wrongdoing.
    Rav Pam related a humorous story
    about his father, Rav Meir Pam
    (1879-1969), who served as a Rabbi
    in Brownsville. Once, Rav Meir
    found it necessary to harshly rebuke

    the congregation, and
    delivered a sermon
    critical of their
    conduct. Afterward,
    one of the members
    approached him and
    said, “Wow, Rabbi,
    you really gave it to
    “I had to bite my lip
    not to laugh or say
    anything,” Rav Meir
    later told his son. “He
    was exactly the person
    I was talking to!”
    This exemplifies the natural tendency
    that we all have when it comes to
    criticism. It’s uncomfortable to admit
    that we act wrongly, so we prefer to
    deflect it, to insist that our behavior
    is perfect and beyond reproach, and
    it is everyone else who needs to hear
    We did not come into this world

    perfect, nor will we ever achieve
    perfection. Our goal, however, must
    be to constantly grow and improve.
    And in order for this to happen, we
    must keep our minds open, humbly
    acknowledging that we are far from
    perfect, and being prepared to accept
    the uncomfortable criticism given to
    us by others. If we live this way, then
    we will continually grow and become
    better, thereby fulfilling our purpose
    here in this world.