EVERYONE IS FAMILIAR with the phrase "Practice what you preach." I would like to reverse this adage and address you on "Preach what you practice."

Let me begin my remarks this way. Supposing you know one who is pursuing a course of behavior which is opposed to the accepted standards of integrity and decency, ask him whether he would like to preach and advocate that others should do likewise. I am sure that he wouldn't want his children or grandchildren to be like him.

Goethe, the German author and philosopher, indulged in immorality, but could not get himself to urge others to accept the low standards of conduct of his own private life. On the contrary, in his writings he praised religion and the moral life. The same was true of the ethical writer and prolific essayist Francis Bacon,and the brilliant English poet Lord Byron. They all shrank from advocating that which they themselves did in private.

There is a Japanese legend which tells of the peasant who went to heaven. There he saw a long shelf with strange-looking objects. "What is that?" he asked of an angel. "Those are ears that belonged to persons who, when they lived, heard what they ought to do but didn't pay attention to it. When they died, their ears went to heaven, but the rest of their bodies were sent to hell." Pointing to queer-looking objects on another shelf, the peasant asked, "What are these?" "These are tongues that once belonged to people who told others to do good, but they themselves never did as they advised others to do. When they died, their tongues came to heaven, but the rest of their bodies were sent to hell."

Here are illustrations from modern life which illustrate my theme—that people do not dare to preach what they practice. There are numerous individuals who are in the habit of cheating in business but would never look their fellows straight in the eye and tell them to do the same. There is the stingy person who wants everything for nothing. I am not referring to the one who would give if he only could, but to the one who could give if he only would. Let such a man stand up and urge others to refuse to support charities, religious institutions, hospitals and other benevolences, and turn a deaf ear to every appeal for help. What would be the result of such a policy? It would mean that we would be faced with closed hospitals, closed sanitariums and closed houses of worship. I am certain that realizing the disastrous results, even a spendthrift would dare preach anything like that. Even a parasite would shudder to live in such a world.

Then there is the selfish individual whose creed is expressed in looking after Number One, and lest there should be mistake as to whom he has in mind, he is quite explicit about it and declares that he means himself. "Very well," I would say to him, "If you believe in that doctrine, go ahead and preach it to your wife, and say to her, I believe in looking after Number One." But supoose you are an excellent teacher and she becomes your devoted disciple, and you come home one evening and find that there is no food for you and that your bed has not been made. "Why is there no dinner for me and why is the bedroom in such a mess?" you ask, and she informs you that she spent the day with her friends. And when you get angry at her reply, she will explain that she has been looking after Number One, only this time it was she.

Then there is the immoral person. If you know a man who is accepted by others and affects you? What kind of a world would it be if everyone would accept your philosophy and look after Number One?

Then there is the immoral person. If you know a man who is leading a double life, invite him to appear at a Men's Club or a Mr. and Mrs. Club to speak on the subject of "A man with two wives." Suppose he says that he believes that if it is a good thing to have one wife, it must be even better to have two or more. Ask him whether he would like his daughter, when she gets married, to be in a similar position to which he has placed her mother. This is what he practices? Let him preach it to one and all.

Finally, there is the irreligious man who says, "I have no interest in, nor any intention of becoming religious. I can get along without prayer and do not feel the need to observe any of the tenets of my faith. What do I care about conscience! It exists only in the minds of rabbis and disturbs those who suffer from indigestion. Abstain from eating heavy foods before going to bed, and from reading religious books and you will sleep easy." If that is the way he feels about conscience, I would urge him not to wrap it up as a secret in his heart but to teach it to his workers. Let him say to them, "Look here! It is all nonsense. There is no such thing as conscience." Preach this doctrine to the girls in the office, especially to the cashier.There will be some money missing at the end of a few weeks, but what of it, if that is his creed!

This idea has been said long ago more forcefully and succinctly by the great and gentle sage named Hillel, "Whatsoever you would not have others do unto you, do not unto others" (Sabbath 31a).

That those who are attuned to the divine are kept from preaching what they practice is stressed in the sidrah that was read this morning. Balak, King of Moab, engaged the services of Balaam, the greatest prophet of heathendom, to pronounce curses against the Israelites. But try as he might, he could not preach against them. This wily, lecherous man was prevented from preaching what he practiced by the divine voice of God. His punishment was severe, not because his preaching was poor but because his practices were crafty and evil. (See Numb. 31:8, 16; Tanhuma Balak 18). The Torah devotes many chapters to this "slimy" individual and brands him forever as the prototype of a hypocrite who deserves the derision of God and the contempt of man. May the Almighty keep us from emulating his example.

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