Last week's tool was: “Remember Napoleon” The stretch was to realize in a situation where you are insulted or embarrassed, that the insult is coming to save you from a worse decree.
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 #7 - A WINNING LOTTERY TICKET
Tool #7: A Winning Lottery Ticket
When a challenging situation arises, we start by using the tools we have previously learned. We can choose to judge the person favorably (dan l’chaf z'chus). We can view the situation as a kappara. We can bring HaShem into the picture and declare that nothing in the world can happen without it first being decreed from Above. If these fall short, another tool is seeing the challenging, difficult or unpleasant situation as a "winning lottery ticket."
When HaShem sends us a painful situation, we can get angry at the other person, or we can withdraw from the other person. We could view the situation with a heavy heart and as a burden, as in: “Oy, yet another test, sigh.” Alternatively, we could learn to see the difficulty as a chance for great blessings to come our way. Sometimes HaShem creates situations just so we can gain extra merit with a proper response. HaShem might send an angry impatient person to the supermarket to yell at us in front of everyone. We should look at this as if HaShem handed us a winning lottery ticket. Whether or not we can cash it in is up to us. If we get angry, leaving HaShem out of the picture, it is as if we took that winning lottery ticket and tore it up. If instead we remain quiet and recognize that this challenging situation is from HaShem and is for our good, then we can "cash in our ticket for the jackpot." The jackpot is an abundance of HaShem's b'rachos. If we keep quiet, then we pass the test. Passing the test brings HaShem’s forgiveness for our aveiros. Of course we will only succeed by keeping HaShem in the picture and recognizing that everything that happens to us comes from HaShem, and is brought to us for our good. The following story will help us understand when this tool of the winning lottery ticket may be precisely the right one for us—especially if earlier tools don’t help reduce our reaction of anger with the other person.
Story: (based on a true story)
One Eruv Sukkos, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein was approached by a man. He was distraught and asked the Rabbi to accompany him to see the damage his neighbor had done to his apartment. Rabbi Zilberstein was taken to the man’s balcony where the sukka had been completely decorated. The table had been set for Yom Tov. Unfortunately the family upstairs had washed their floor and sent all the filthy water from cleaning their whole apartment down the drain on their porch which emptied down onto the upset man's sukka. Rabbi Zilberstein could see the schach was dripping with filthy water. The filth dripped on his beautifully set table, and dripped down from the wet decorations. This man’s family was in great pain. The Rabbi probably first acknowledged the pain of every family member who had worked to prepare such a beautiful Yom Tov table only to have it ruined.
Rather than going to make the upstairs neighbors aware of the damage their water had done to the sukka, the Rabbi said he preferred to speak to the heart of the one that is hurt. He quoted from a very rare sefer Bris Olam, authored by a talmid of the RamChal, about the mitzva in the Torah azov ta’azov, translated here as “You shall surely help.” (Usually these words mean “to leave”.) In the discussion of the mitzva, the Torah instructs us that if you see your enemy’s donkey falling under the burden of a heavy load, you shall surely help your enemy in unloading the donkey repeatedly. This is the only place in the Torah where the word a'zov means help rather than leave: you shall surely help. What is the significance of this? The Torah is telling us that if you leave behind your complaints against him and forgive him, then a'zov ta’azov, HaShem will surely leave behind all his complaints against you. Your sins will be forgiven and you will merit a clean slate. The sefer specifies that you will have a clean slate like a newborn baby. No one would knowingly give up such an opportunity.
We could imagine that the Rabbi helped members of the family to give the family upstairs the benefit of the doubt. Maybe in fact a child had swept the dirty water through the drain unaware of where it would drip down. Certainly no one purposely caused them this harm. Even taking into account all the damage done, it was certainly worth it for all he would gain by forgiving the person, a completely clean slate; all of his sins forgiven. For a person to get angry and continue to be upset after learning this, means the person doesn’t understand that everything is from HaShem. Sometimes HaShem sends us these painful situations through another person to give us the opportunity to earn his b'rachos. He wants to shower us with His b'rachos. First He sends a test to see that we are worthy, and to what extent. The heavenly ‘cameras’ will testify as to the reactions of the person. Does the person choose to keep quiet, recognizing this is from HaShem, or does he instead react out of anger? Does he forgive his neighbor or does he demand justice be done The person’s reactions will determine the blessings that HaShem sends down.
Discussion Question Options:
When we find ourselves upset with the actions or words of another, what could we think to ourselves to help change our negative reaction?
Is there anything important to lose by letting go of the anger in light of what is to be gained?
When would you find it most difficult to let go of anger?
Keep in mind what b'rachos you need from HaShem to strengthen your resolve to pass the test and earn the winning lottery ticket. What blessings do you want from HaShem?
Stretch of the Week:
If upset or angry with another, STOP. Consider this as a winning lottery ticket and decide how you want to 'invest' the proceeds.