We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chusim for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Work on adjusting your thinking about the people who you don’t naturally get along with by remembering that HaShem has placed them in your life to grow.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #6
DO NOT HATE
PART 3 - Helping a Person You Don’t Like and Dealing with your Feelings
The Gemara discusses the mitzvos of helping one person who is having trouble loading packages onto his donkey and another who is struggling with unloading his donkey’s burden. In general, when faced with a choice between the two, the mitzva of unloading would take precedence, since there is an issue of tza’ar ba’alei chaim (causing pain to animals) for the donkey that has collapsed under its load. However, the Gemara tells us, if the one who needs help unloading his donkey is a friend and the one who needs help loading his donkey is an enemy, then we are to give precedence to helping the enemy load his donkey, so as to exercise control over our yetzer (inclination), which prods us to ignore the needs of the enemy. The same would apply in all mitzvos of chessed when a similar choice presents itself.
What begins as a small feeling of hatred in the heart may easily mushroom into a torrent of devastating aveiros: taking revenge or holding a grudge; flattering the rasha; speaking and believing lashon hora and rechilus; misleading people with bad advice; machlokes; striking; cursing; and publicly shaming another jew. Among the mitzvos asai he is likely to violate are the obligations to love his fellow man, to rebuke and to judge favorably. Sin’a is like a termite that steadily erodes the nefesh and can easily lead to a breakdown of one’s entire Torah observance; any rational person recognizes it to be the lowliest, most repulsive midda (Mishpetei Hashalom 2:36-37)
So what should we do with our feelings? The first thing to do when we sense that someone hates us is to try to discover the reasons for his feelings. At times, this is best done indirectly, through a third party. Once the reasons are clear we can apologize and clear the air. If matters are not so open and shut, we should go to a Rav or even to a mutual friend to hear both sides and settle matters between us and, if necessary, take the issue to a din torah before a proper bais din, where all the uncertainties will be ironed out.
When these approaches are not practical, the other alternative is to accept the fact that the aggravation we are going through is a gezeira (decree) from Shamayim and that the other person is not more than an agent for bringing it about. We wouldn’t slap the mailman for bringing us an electric bill; nor should we explode at the other fellow for being the shaliach (messenger) for our pain.
Granted, the other fellow may be guilty of violating the prohibition of lo sisna, and it is naturally difficult to love someone who hates us. Still, according to many opinions we are not allowed to hate him and certainly not to cause him any harm or even to refrain from doing him any favor the Torah would require us to do for another Jew. It is important to realize that if the Torah demands such behavior of us, then it is within our power to act in this way. (The exception to this rule would be if we are absolutely certain that this person wants to cause us physical, emotional or financial harm, even though we have not done him any wrong. In such a case, a different halacha would apply)
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
All of my friends and I had been looking forward to the wedding of a good friend of ours from high school who had been looking for her zivug for a long time. We looked forward to our drive to the city which would enable us to take a respite from our wonderful but tiring daily routine in the bungalow colony. We talked and ate chocolate (something which isn’t so easy to do peacefully with the children around) and had a great time! I wanted to stay for as long as possible but had a child with a fever at home who needed my care so I only planned to be there to say mazel tov. After wishing my friend and her family a heartfelt mazel tov (and sampling a few salads at the shmorg), I tried to find someone who was looking for a ride back to the country to keep me company. I was taking a few boxes back up to the Catskills for a relative of the chosson so I only had room for one person. It was then that I overheard an old acquaintance, Rochel, mention that she was looking for a ride back to the country immediately. I started to approach Rochel to offer her a ride, anticipating a repeat enjoyable trip back up north. Right before I reached her, I heard a young man’s voice say, “Excuse me, did I hear you say that you’re going back to the country?” I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Shmuely, the oldest son of one of the women in my shul that I just can’t stand. I have nothing against Shmuely, I really don’t even know him but his mother and I are at a silent odds with each other. Shmuely always seemed to be a sweet boy but right now I was faced with a choice. Either I could ride with a friend who I enjoyed being with and who I haven’t spent quality time with in a while or I could do a favor for this boy whose mother has never been on my most favorite list. I felt a tug-of-war inside. On the one hand, in my mind I heard my conscious telling me that this is the chance I’ve been waiting for to make the first move and do something nice for her to break the ice. On the other hand, I just wanted to relax and have a good time. I’m embarrassed to say that I chose to take Rochel, rationalizing that I should not have to be the “nice” one. Why should I have to stick out my neck first? However, the whole ride home I felt sick with guilt and ended up not enjoying the trip. Rochel needed to take care of some business calls and my daughter kept calling to say she felt sick and was going to vomit. I ended up spending most of the trip comforting my daughter on the phone and had no time to speak with Rochel. I arrived at home and called a friend from shul who is familiar with this situation with Shmuely’s mother and me. She told me I blew it. Can I say I called Shmuely and apologized or I drove back to the chasuna to pick him up? No. At a quiet moment though, I did see the hashgacha in it all. HaShem gave me a chance to easily do something nice for someone I despise to help me overcome my negative feelings but I chose to decline. I hope HaShem will give me another chance and that I have the presence of mind to do the right thing.
Discussion Question Options:
What is the fear people have if they do something for someone they dislike or hate?
When we hear the halacha that we are not supposed to hate someone even if they wronged us because they were just messengers from HaShem, how can we absorb and fulfill that halacha in a real way?
Why do people get pleasure out of thinking badly about other people and not letting go of their negative thinking?
Stretch of the Week:
If you have unresolved issues with someone else, contact a halachic authority to be sure you are approaching the matter correctly.