Last week's stretch was: Find reasons to praise HaShem for his mercy and kindness. In situations that bring suffering or embarrassment, work on seeing this suffering as a kappara, to cleanse ourselves from our sins.
Please have one person share a successful experience using this or any other tool we have learned (so far).
PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR BRINGING
SHALOM INTO OUR WORLD
Tool #5 - BEING SILENT
Tool #5: Being Silent at the Time of an Argument
The following is from the Sefer K’tzais HaShemesh Bigvuraso, quoting an article in Meoros magazine, Issue 46, by Chaim Stefansky.
At the time of an argument, people are usually not willing to keep quiet and, as a result, anger rules. Tempers flare. In G'mara Chulin, Rabbi Eala said, “The world exists in the merit of those who keep quiet (bolaim) at the time of an argument. As it says in Iyov (Job 26:7): ‘The world hangs on nothingness (b'lima).’ The entire world exists in the merit of those people who know when to keep silent. And when is that? At the time of an argument." Last week the tool used to motivate us to be silent was accepting the pain caused as a kappara. This week we are looking from a different angle to focus on why people get angry at one another. The true answer is shocking: a lack of emuna, a lack of trust in G-d causes anger.
If you would approach someone while they were having an angry fit and tell them: “You are not a believing, trusting Jew!”, they would tremble. “Because I am angry at someone who hurt me, insulted me, or caused me some sort of damage, I am not a believing Jew? What does one thing have to do with the other?" they would ask.
A person who gets angry usually thinks that it was the other person who caused him the pain or damage. As we have learned with earlier tools, the truth of the matter is that the other person is merely the chosen messenger sent by HaShem to deliver the insult or damage which was coming to him. The one who responds in an angry fashion demonstrates the belief that someone other than HaShem has power over him. This is blasphemy!
Those who remain silent—from their mouths as well as in their hearts are proclaiming that HaShem alone rules and supervises all that happens. Therefore, their reaction in such situations is silence. They know, as we learned last week, that: No one can harm me unless it is decreed from Above! This, too, is from HaShem and must only be for my good!
In Ohr Yahel, (volume 2, Parshas Vayatzai) as quoted in K’tzais HaShemesh Bigvuraso, the discussion continues: "When such a person arrives in The World of Truth, can there be any greater satisfaction than to see the world resting on his shoulders? This physically weak person, barely able to carry his own frame, will see in the Next World that in truth, he is the one that carried the world, preventing it from falling—by being silent at the time of an argument."
Besides the tremendous merit of keeping the world afloat, our Rabbis tell us that at that moment of keeping silent at the time of an argument, we merit a special power of prayer. Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, in Aleinu L’Shabei'ach, relates the following story. A man, who was married for several years and was not yet blessed with children, approached Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita. The man poured out his heart to his Rabbi, asking for a suggestion of what to do to merit children. Rav Chaim recommended that he find someone who kept quiet at the time of an insult and ask him for a b'racha. At first the man thought this would be simple. However as time passed, he saw that it was not easy at all to find someone who fit the description. One evening, when he attended a wedding, he heard one man berate another one, embarrassing him and insulting him very publicly. The one being insulted did not react. He ignored the one embarrassing him. The man who had cried to Reb Chaim realized: "Finally HaShem had sent me the opportunity I sought." He quickly approached the man being insulted. All this time, the angry man continued his harangue. The one in need of the b'racha could see the one being insulted finding it more and more difficult to remain silent. Before he could answer back, the childless man implored him: “Please, do me a favor and don’t answer back! I’ll explain as soon as I can. Please, it is so important to me. Please do this chesed for me!" The man in need of a b’racha continued to plead with the man to remain silent and the angry man finally walked away. Then the man seeking a b’racha told the man who had endured humiliation the suggestion Rav Chaim had given him. Naturally upon understanding the opportunity he had gained with his silence, the man gave a b’racha for meriting children. Nine months later, the couple seeking the b’racha celebrated a b'ris.
Sometime after this story appeared in Aleinu L’Shabei'ach, Rav Zilberstein heard the following from a reader of his sefer. A man and his wife were also childless and had tried just about everything. Seeking a b’racha from someone who remained silent at the time of an argument was not something they had heard of before. So naturally he too was eager to find someone who merited to make this b’racha. He wondered, what was he supposed to do? He couldn’t put an ad in the paper, or the shul bulletin. He didn’t have to wait long. That very afternoon HaShem brought him to the right place at the right time. As he entered a shul, he saw a man standing over someone berating and insulting him. The one being insulted kept quiet. The man approached him and asked for a b’racha, explaining this was suggested by a Rav to merit having children. The b’racha was given, and HaShem answered.
Amazingly enough, Rabbi Zilberstein mentions a third such incident in a later volume of Aleinu L’Shabei'ach. Rabbi Zilberstein tells us that we need to know that if we are in the need of some sort of y'shua (salvation), we need not wait until we find someone who remains quiet at the time of an insult. If we ourselves are ever insulted or embarrassed, we should seize the opportunity HaShem has granted us. By remaining quiet at such a time, we merit the power of a b’racha! Don’t let the moment be wasted. Say a t'filla to HaShem for what you most need or on behalf of someone else. Those who are “insulted but do not insult back, hear their shame but do not answer back” are so loved by HaShem that their t'fillos (prayers) and b’racha (blessings) at that moment are as effective as those of a great tzaddik!
Story: (based on a true story)
Many years ago, in Yerushalayim, there was an elderly Rav who developed an infection in his leg that continued to worsen and grow due to a lack of antibiotics. His doctor informed him that amputating his leg was now the only way to prevent the infection from invading the rest of his body. A date was set for the following week to amputate the infected leg. The day before he was to enter the hospital, this very Rav was walking down the street with the help of a student, when suddenly a woman emerged from her store yelling and screaming at this Rav for causing much of her merchandise to be ruined due to water seeping through the ceiling. As she continued her tirade, people stopped to listen, causing further embarrassment. The Rav knew this was a case of mistaken identity. He didn’t say a word, recognizing that this woman was already in such a state that nothing he said would have made any difference. Besides, he recognized the embarrassment he suffered certainly came directly from HaShem. The woman finished her tirade, returned to her store, and the Rav continued on his way. The following day, after examination, the doctor was astonished to report that miraculously, the Rav’s leg was showing signs of improvement. His leg didn’t require amputation! The Rav recognized that there most certainly was a connection between the silence he granted when being publicly embarrassed by the store owner and the annulment of the decree for him to lose his leg. By learning this tool, may we, with HaShem's help, respond with silence, fully recognizing the gift HaShem is presenting to us. And may we seize the moment and ask for HaShem’s .
Discussion Question Options:
What is the connection between being embarrassed publicly or remaining silent at the time of an argument, and then being granted a from the One Above?
What obstacles might stand in the way of someone remaining silent in the face of an embarrassment or argument?
Think of situations in which you could imagine being silent by using the tools learned.
Stretch of the Week:
When embarrassed or insulted by someone publically, practice being silent—understanding that the moment presents an opportunity to ask HaShem for a b’racha .