When two people do not get along, their inability to maintain an honest discourse which has nothing to do with their disagreement is an indication of their antipathy towards one another. The brothers, regrettably, could not carry on a friendly conversation even about matters unrelated to their discord. On the other hand, as Rashi observes, their incapacity to have a conversation showed their virtue: Their integrity did not allow them to evince a show of friendliness. If they did not feel it – they did not show it. Unfortunately, their refrain from speaking also caused them to avoid rebuking Yosef for what they felt was his unbecoming behavior. This resulted in their aversion to him becoming more compelling and decisive.
Accepting rebuke – owning up to the error of one’s ways, bowing to disappointment – is the mark of an honorable person. Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, relates the story of a young Torah scholar who lived in an apartment building in central Eretz Yisrael. Someone opened up a children’s store on the first floor of the building which sold all kinds of products geared to the infant through teenage market. They also carried children’s furniture, cribs, carriages, etc. In order to attract attention to their wares, the store’s owner placed some of his products outside of his store for passersby to notice. Everything seemed perfectly innocent – except to the young scholar, who took umbrage with a business using the sidewalk in front of his apartment building for advertisement purposes. When the owner of the store ignored his complaints, he presented his grievance to a bais din.
The bais din listened to his complaints and even dispatched one of their own to look at the furniture on the street, but found no reason to ban this form of advertisement. Case closed. The Torah scholar, who was a decent, upstanding ben Torah, accepted the halachic ruling. The Av Bais Din, head of the court was impressed with the young man, went over to him and whispered in his ear, “You did well and acted appropriately. Who knows? One day you might benefit from the services of the storekeeper or his products.”
Ten days passed, and the young man and his wife were in the kitchen of their fourth floor apartment, when their two-year-old crawled out onto the balcony and somehow squeezed between the bars of the window and fell down. The parents heard their child’s shriek, and they came running. Overwhelmed with shock, they imagined the worst. They looked down from their fourth floor perch expecting to witness a tragedy. Hashem had protected their child, who landed on the mattress of the crib outside of the children’s store! It was as the Av Bais Din had portended: The young man was the beneficiary of his own honorable willingness to accept the halachic ruling of the Bais Din.
The young scholar was mevater, manifested self-control, and acted royally by accepting the ruling. Horav Elozar M. Shach, zl, declared that in his entire life, he had never seen someone who was mevater and lose out as a result of his concession. The young Torah scholar and his child present a living testament to this verity.