Last week's tool was: “the winning lottery ticket." The stretch was to stop yourself after getting angry or upset with someone. Consider they have given you a winning lottery ticket. Everyone needs b'rachos from HaShem. Consider how it would be worth giving up our anger in favor of receiving an abundance of b'rachos that HaShem has waiting for us. Would it be worth giving up the right to be angry or upset in favor of the possibility of receiving this b'racha from HaShem?
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 #8 - THE SHALOM FUND
Tool #8: The Shalom Fund
Money is quite often the reason for strife between people. The Chofetz Chaim’s solution in such cases is creating a Shalom Fund. In Sefer Shmiras HaLashon, the Chofetz Chaim advises us to set aside a certain amount of money every week for this fund. In the time of the Chofetz Chaim, when money was more scarce, they probably had to literally put money aside weekly for this special purpose. In modern times, we can mentally have in mind that a portion of our money in the bank is for our Shalom fund. In the same way we make sure to have money available for other mitzvos, such as m'zuzos, matzos for Pesach, and a lulav and esrog for Succos, we need to make sure we have money available for the mitzva of shalom. Would a person ever say: “It’s been a rough year, I think we’ll have to do without matzos this Pesach,” or “We spent so much on the new house, there is no money in the budget for m'zuzos. We will have to do without them for the time being." Of course not.
Why is it so hard to spend money for this essential mitzva of shalom? We remember from our first lesson how important shalom is to HaShem. When we seek to make ourselves a “receptacle” to contain HaShem’s blessings, we will seek ways to make peace in our relationships and for ourselves. With a designated Shalom Fund, we are relieved from feeling that we are taking money from ‘our own pockets’ for that which our neighbor owes us. Rather we are paying with money that was already designated in our minds to go for the mitzva of shalom. We are not necessarily talking about large sums of money here. A person need not feel that if one is constantly taking money out of a Shalom Fund, then others will take advantage and soon a person would have no money left for personal needs. For large amounts of money, a person has a right to turn to the Bais Din to recover what the person believes is owed him. Additionally, when a person forgets to pay us back or return a borrowed item, it would certainly be proper behavior to remind them, even if it requires several reminders. Truthfully, the day to day quarrels over money almost always involve small amounts. By utilizing the Shalom Fund, a person saves himself from many serious sins. If a person is not sure if their case should go to Bais Din, or if they should be m'vater on the money, definitely ask your Rav. However, it is important to keep in mind the words of Yaakov Kaminetzky, zt'l: "People think the one who is m'vater is a tzaddik, but I say he is a chochom." One who is m'vater will never lose out! Many people have said how valuable this tool has been in helping them maintain good relationships with neighbors who borrow items and never return them, or friends when making sheva b'rachos together and one of the participating parties does not pay their fair share, or when there is a disagreement on how much should be spent, with mechutanim when making a simcha together.
The Chofetz Chaim, in Sefer Shmiras HaLashon, gives a mashal of a father dishing out portions of food to his children. One of them, Reuven, approaches him and asks for another portion. Reuven explained that Shimon took his portion. When he asked for it back, Shimon refused to give it to him. Reuven understood that his father did not like seeing his children fighting, so rather than fight with Shimon over the food, Reuven was asking for a new portion. The father upon hearing this explanation was so pleased, the father gave him a double portion. Now, imagine the scenario differently. Imagine Reuven demanding that Shimon give him back his portion. Imagine that Shimon refuses, so Reuven grabs the food by force. Soon food is flying and both brothers are hitting each other on the floor. The father turns around demanding to know what’s going on. Reuven points to Shimon saying: “He started it. He took my food and wouldn’t give it back!" The father would then answer, while reaching to take Shimon’s food from him: “I don’t care who started it! You should have just come to me and asked for more rather than fight! Now both of you get nothing!”
HaShem is our loving Father and can’t tolerate seeing His children fight. Everything we have is from Him and if we feel someone is unfairly taking away something that is rightfully ours, we need only turn to HaShem and ask Him to replace it. It pleases HaShem so much when we choose peace over strife or bearing a grudge, then we are promised that He will actually pay us back double the amount on which we are m'vater! (See Sefer Sh'miras HaLashon, Sha'ar Hatevuna, Chapter 11) Wouldn’t it be foolish to give up such an opportunity? When we find ourselves facing such a test, we again must strengthen our trust and faith in HaShem, and recognize that everything is from Him. How much money we will have is determined on Rosh Hashanah. No one can take away from us what HaShem determines we are to have.
From K’tais HaShemesh Bigvuraso:
A little over eighty years ago there lived a Jew, Reb Chaim, who owned a printing shop in a town in Israel. One day another Jew opened a printing shop right next to the first one. The first thing Reb Chaim did was check in his s'farim the laws pertaining to לובג תגשה, encroaching on another’s boundaries. He came to the conclusion that since a person’s livelihood is apportioned to each person on Rosh Hashanah for the entire year, no one could take away what was coming to him. As long as he put forth the effort that he could, he didn’t have to worry that someone else would thwart that which was allotted to him by HaShem. Therefore, Reb Chaim didn’t get angry or complain to his new neighbor that: “From the entire city, you couldn’t find anywhere other than right next to me to open your business?" Rather, he gave the new printer the benefit of the doubt, and decided that this situation was orchestrated in Heaven. On the first day his neighbor opened his new shop, Reb Chaim went over to welcome him. He offered assistance for whatever he might need starting out, contributing lessons learned over Reb Chaim’s years of experience with the print business. Additionally, Reb Chaim encouraged him to come over to his shop to borrow any tools he might need. Reb Chaim extended his invitation further inviting the new neighbor over to his home Motza'ai Shabbos when they could sit down. There Reb Chaim would systematically teach the new neighbor all there is to know about the business and the community.
Immediately after Havdala that Shabbos, Reb Chaim went to his bookcase, pulled out Sefer Emuna U’Bitachon by his Rebbe, the Chazon Ish, and proceeded to learn from it until his guest arrived. When his ‘competitor’ arrived, Reb Chaim greeted him warmly. Then Reb Chaim graciously shared knowledge of the print business acquired over his many years of experience. He suggested that they set the same price for all of their work so there wouldn’t be any jealousy or other bad feelings between them. When it was time for the man to leave, Reb Chaim escorted him to the door and blessed him with success. Reb Chaim’s family could not believe what had just transpired. Here a man encroaches on your territory and instead of taking him to Bais Din, you give him all the advice you have to offer as to how to succeed in the business? Reb Chaim answered them that really he owes a debt of gratitude to this competitor. “Since it has already been decreed in Heaven how much money I will make, I’ll be more than happy if some of my customers switch to him. All it means is that I will be working less for the same amount of money." Those are the words of a Jew who truly internalized the meaning of faith and trust in HaShem!
The following story is from Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin:
A relative of Rabbi Shlomo Hyman, who served as Rosh Yeshiva of Torah V’Daas in the late ‘30’s, once offered him use of one of his apartments in his summer home where the two couples would share a kitchen. Reb Shlomo asked his wife to figure out if their income would cover the expenses of such a vacation. She figured it out and then told him that it would be within their means. Reb Shlomo asked to see the figures, which was very unusual since he always left such things to his wife. He checked it over and then said to his wife, “You forgot to add in one expense." She asked, “What?" He answered, “Shalom Bayis gelt. When two parties share living facilities there are bound to be some questions as to how much each side should contribute to the expenses; who used more electricity, who used the telephone more. Each party finds it difficult to part with its hard earned money and this is where machlokes begins. To avoid this one should set aside at the beginning some money in event such problems arise, and then there will be no difficulty in surrendering the money.”
The following story was heard by Rebetzin Yehudis Samet:
Shmully came to Chaim’s house to play and brought with him his new handheld electronic game. Shmully and Chaim played with it for quite some time until they finally felt they had had enough. Leaving it on the coffee table, they both ran out to play in the yard. When it was time to return home, Shmully ran to recover his game, but it was no longer where they had left it. After searching all over, the boys finally discovered the electronic game in the bathroom, where 3 year old Duvie, Chaim’s younger brother, had brought it. To their dismay it was now waterlogged and broken. Shmully was quite upset. This had been his afikomen present. Upon returning home, Shmully phoned Chaim to announce that his mother would be calling Chaim’s mother to let her know how much the game cost. The assumption was that Chaim’s mother would reimburse them for the damaged toy. When Chaim’s mother heard this, she was quite upset. She said to her friend Leah, a confidant she turned to often for help dealing with life situations: '“Why should I have to pay for his game? Did I tell him to bring it here, and leave it where Duvie could get a hold of it? It’s his own negligence that caused it to get broken. I’m not obligated to watch Duvie every single second! What a chutzpa to expect me to pay for it!" Leah tried calming her friend down. “First of all, you don’t know if the mother will actually call. It could have been wishful thinking on the part of your son’s friend. Let’s say she does call expecting you to pay for the game. Is it worth it to make a fight over the $15-20 it may have cost?" Leah proceeded to tell her friend what she had learned about the Shalom Fund. “We are willing to pay out money for other mitzvos, such as matzos, lulav and esrog, and m'zuzos. Isn’t it reasonable to pay $15-20 for shalom? As a bonus, HaShem promises to pay us back double for whatever money we are m'vater on for the sake of shalom." Chaim’s mother thought about what she heard and decided that if Shmully’s mother called requesting reimbursement for the game, she wouldn’t make a machlokes over it. She would instead take it out of her Shalom Fund. P.S. The mother never called.
Discussion Question Options:
There are two main reasons to work on getting along with people, even those we could avoid. One is correcting our character traits (tikkun hamiddos). The second is for the sake of unity (achdus) in K'lal Yisrael. Discuss how every negative interaction further ingrains our bad middos.
Think of situations where something happened that damaged a relationship where you now see a shalom fund would have been the remedy.
What situations might require consulting a Rav to consider going to Bais Din?
Stretch of the Week:
Discuss this concept of mentally budgeting some funds for shalom with whoever shares expenses with you for your household.