We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week's stretch was: to judge someone favorably (dan l’chaf z’chus). With Tool #1 we discussed the value of taking our focus off what the other person did to us. Instead we learned to focus on the hurtful incident as an opportunity coming directly from HaShem as a test. In passing the test, HaShem will be able to forgive our sins. A person that is m'vater will never lose out.
Please have one person share a successful experience using this or any other tool we have learned (so far).
Tool #3 - BITACHON
PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR BRINGING
SHALOM INTO OUR WORLD
Tool #3: Bringing HaShem into the Picture
Last week we worked on judging the other favorably. We searched for some explanation for what they had seemingly done that would convince us there was no reason to be hurt in the first place. Once we see that no offense was intended, it becomes easier to forgive. There are some situations, however, for which dan l’chaf z'chus alone is not enough to allow us to let go of our bad feelings. In such cases we need a different tool. Instead of focusing on the ‘perpetrator,’ we instead turn our focus to HaShem by working on strengthen our emuna and bitachon (faith and trust) in Him. We must constantly remind ourselves that HaShem runs the world.
The author of the sefer Pella Yoaitz elaborates on this: Each one of us must believe with a complete belief that all of the bad, as well as all of the good in our lives, comes from The One Above—whether it comes to us through another person (as an insult), or comes directly from Heaven (as an illness, r”l). We must recognize that no one can harm us, or benefit us even the slightest bit, or grant us honor, or cause us shame, without a decree from above! Therefore, whoever causes me benefit or causes me harm—whether physically, financially or emotionally—is merely a messenger from HaShem. When this foundation of our faith is set in our hearts with a complete belief like nails that are pounded in until they will not budge, then we will understand that we are not to blame the offending person. 'פלא יועץ אות ג: "And if I realize that this is from HaShem, then I can go a step further and realize that this is for my good because everything HaShem does is for my good!"
In Sefer Hachinuch as well (under the mitzvos Do Not Take Revenge and Do Not Hold a Grudge), it states that a person must know and take deeply to heart that everything that happens to him, whether good or bad, is from HaShem. Absolutely nothing can happen without it being the will of HaShem. Therefore, when someone causes you anguish or pain, you must know that it was decreed from Above.
The Chofetz Chaim, in Sefer Sh'miras HaLoshon, tells us that when we accept the situation as a decree from Above, our honor is raised in both this world and the World to Come, and the reward is great.(שמירת הלשון שער תבונה פ' ח'ס)
A person might feel: “Yes I understand that is what HaShem sent for me. Still I’m upset with the other person for choosing to do it to me. They had free choice." The fact that they were the messenger sent to hurt me is between them and HaShem. My focus needs to be on the fact that this is what HaShem wanted for me and it was therefore for my good!
Imagine that you are going to your car to get to work on time when you see that your neighbor is blocking your driveway. The neighbor doesn’t answer his doorbell when you rush over to ask him to move his car. You are now furious! The clock is ticking and you see that you are going to be late for work. Perhaps you risk losing your job because you were expected at an important meeting. Your first step might be to use the tool dan l’chaf z'chus. Perhaps the neighbor was planning on moving his car first thing in the morning when some emergency came up. Let’s say you see the neighbor later and you find out that wasn’t the case (Note: You still get full credit for fulfilling the mitzva of judging favorably, even if you were wrong.). Rather, he just felt like parking there since it was the most convenient place for him at the time. As you feel pressure building inside, your immediate next step is to bring HaShem into the picture. You say to yourself: “This couldn’t happen to me unless HaShem wanted it to happen (including any resulting consequences). It must actually be for my good. If I don’t see how at this moment, it will become clear when I get to the Next World.” Each of us has heard stories like this of people made late for work on September 11, 2001—lateness that saved their lives as their planned destination had been the World Trade Center in Manhattan or a plane that went down. In upcoming lessons, we will reveal additional tools for benefiting from the hurts that come our way.
Story: (based on a true story)
An excellent shidduch had been suggested to a bachur learning in Yeshivas K'nesses Yisrael which had, unfortunately, been spoiled by the thoughtless words of another student. Aside from losing out on this promising shidduch, this action also resulted in the bachur being drafted into the Russian army. There he suffered several years as a Russian soldier—especially as a frum Jew. After several difficult years in the army, this bachur was finally able to return to yeshiva. By the time of his return, the other student who had slandered him, caused the annulment of his shidduch and the resulting suffering in the army, felt terrible regret for what he had done. He felt too much shame to go and apologize in person for all that he had caused. No longer learning in Slabodka, he wrote a letter to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, revealing to Rav Finkel what he had done and asking him to speak to the bachur to have him grant forgiveness.
Rav Nosson Tzvi spoke to the bachur, revealing to him the contents of the letter and asking him to work to overcome whatever bad feelings he may have; the bachur was asked to find it in his heart to forgive the other student for the terrible suffering that he had caused. This bachur immediately claimed that he completely forgave the one who harmed him. Rav Nosson Tzvi, concerned that his words were only from the mouth and not rooted in his heart, spoke to him about looking deeper. Once again this bachur assured his Rosh Yeshiva that he had nothing against the other boy, adding that he understood that everything he went through was from HaShem, and everything HaShem does is only for the good! Upon hearing this Rav Nosson Tzvi embraced him emotionally, kissed him warmly, and exclaimed that he was a true tzaddik—holding him up as an example for the rest of the yeshiva!
(Important: It should be noted that this is a middas chassidus, not necessarily was he required to be so kind!)
Discussion Question Options:
What comes to mind from your life experiences of a situation that would have benefited from having this tool “hammered in with nails?” How would your suffering or that of another been reduced?
How can you imagine applying this tool in your life?
When do you think it would be most difficult to use this particular tool?
What do you think you will need to do to interrupt the automatic reaction to attack the other, to give yourself time to bring HaShem into the picture?
Stretch of the Week:
Be aware of any situation in which you can practice bringing HaShem into the picture, no matter how little or how big. Remember: Whoever causes you harm is only a messenger from HaShem. Somehow whatever seems bad now is for your good.