Tools - Lesson 9 - Not Reuvain


We are here to improve our relationships with others

in order to transform the Jewish people in these urgent times.



Last week's tool was:  the Shalom Fund.  The stretch was to discuss the concept of a family shalom fund, which doesn't have to be taking funds out of the bank.  Knowing this is a budgeted item proves helpful.  Using any of the tools learned to date, one person share a success story for two minutes.

Please have one person share a successful experience using this or any other tool we have learned (so far)





Tool #9Not Reuvain

Hurt feelings are often caused by something someone else said or did.  There are times, however, when we are upset with someone as a result of something they didn’t do, when we have expectations that are not fulfilled.  This may include when someone doesn’t invite us to their simcha, doesn’t lend us an item we know they have, or doesn’t come through with a favor.  The Chofetz Chaim says that in such cases, we shouldn’t have a complaint against them.  Instead, we should know that it wasn’t decreed in Heaven that the favor should come from that particular person.  To illustrate this, the Chofetz Chaim gives us a mashal:  Someone going to an unfamiliar town was asked to deliver a package to “Reuvain.” Upon seeing a group of people he asked:  “Excuse me, would you tell me where I could find Reuvain?  Someone answered him, “Try at the marketplace.  There are a lot of people at the market.  Perhaps you’ll find him there.” The man took his advice and went to the marketplace and asked around for Reuvain, without success.  Would it ever occur to him to get angry at each one he approached when he was told that each one wasn’t Reuvain?  “Why are you Shimon?  or “Why are you Levi when I need Reuvain?  If he cannot find Reuvain, he needs to search further until he comes across the right person.  So too, the Chofetz Chaim says, if one asks a person for a favor, and they don’t come through, one shouldn’t hold it against the person because they are not the one decreed in Heaven to give the favor.  Instead, simply go find “Reuvain,” the one meant to do the favor.  If one doesn’t find Reuvain, then recognize this too is from HaShem.

On the mitzva, לא תשנא אחיך בלבביך, do not hate your brother in your heart, the Rambam says:  “If one person sins against another, he shouldn’t hold it in his heart, but he should approach him for the sake of shalom (not to let off steam), asking him why he did it, or let him know that he’s hurt, in order to give the person an opportunity to explain himself or apologize.  If the person refuses to apologize or excuse his actions, only then may the person hold it against him.” The Rambam does say at this point that there are those who will work on forgiving on their own, without approaching the person.  This is most certainly praiseworthy.  The Chofetz Chaim maintains that because there are opinions to the contrary (that we may not hold on to bad feelings towards that person even after approaching the person and getting a negative response), we do not hold as the Rambam in this case.  Therefore, it would be much better to work on the hurt on our own (or with the help of a friend) and only approach the person after giving it much thought, concluding that the person will probably answer in a positive way so shalom will be achieved.  The point to emphasize here are the beginning words of the Rambam:  “If one person sins against another.” This lenient opinion of the Rambam only applies if someone has sinned against you, and not when the person doesn’t do something you would have liked them to do.  In such cases, even the Rambam maintains that we are not allowed to harbor any ill will against them.  Such cases include not lending an item, not inviting us, not visiting, and not coming through with a favor we expected.  In all of these such cases, we are obligated to recognize that the favor was not meant to come from them (utilizing the tool of strengthening ourselves with emuna and bitachon) as well as to judge them favorably.

Story(based on a true story)

Dina’s sister in Lakewood was making a wedding.  When visiting Dina in Baltimore, the sister had visited the gown g’mach and found the perfect gown for her and one for her daughters.  A week before the wedding, Dina picked up the gowns from the g’mach and proceeded to inquire about rides to Lakewood.  She was happy to hear that Mrs. C.’s daughter, Leah, was in town for Shabbos and would be returning to Lakewood on Sunday.  Dina called the C.’s home and asked Leah if she would perhaps have room to take the gowns.  Leah said that she probably would.  To be certain, she should call back in an hour after she had the car packed.  When Dina called back, Leah’s mother answered.  Dina told her that Leah said she should call back to see if she had room in the car for the gowns.  Mrs. C., when hearing what Dina wanted, immediately said:  “Of course she won’t have room.  She’s traveling with her whole family.  They have lots of stuff.  She won’t be able to take anything extra.” Dina’s heart sank.  She thought that if she would have spoken to Leah directly, Leah would have been more accommodating.  Leah probably would have made room for the two gowns.  Mrs. C. hadn’t even checked with Leah.  Dina was quite upset.  Her sister really needed those gowns and Leah was the only ride Dina had found.  While condemning Mrs. C. in her mind, she heard a little voice in her head say:  “She’s not Reuvain.” At first she fought that idea.  Slowly, she let it grow stronger.  Though it was hard for her to accept at first, she was finally able to remove from her heart the complaints that she had against Mrs. C. Dina made peace with the fact that it wasn’t decreed in heaven that the favor would come from Leah.  Obviously HaShem had other plans.  Though she didn’t know how she was going to get the gowns to her sister, she felt very good that she was able to utilize a tool to help her drop the complaints and bad feelings.  By the way, about a half an hour later, Leah appeared at Dina’s door.  She apologized for not having a chance to call her back.  Her family was now all packed and ready to go and she was stopping by to pick up the gowns.

Discussion Question Options:

Think of a time when you expected a favor from someone and were disappointed or hurt.  How would using this tool have reduced your suffering and helped you make peace with the other person?

What other tools previously learned might be helpful if this one doesn’t work in a given situation?

Think of a situation when going back to the specific person you want to receive the favor from may be appropriate, where being more specific about what you want might make a difference.

Stretch of the Week:

Notice situations in which you are hurt or disappointed.  Consider if using this tool of “Not Reuvain” might make a difference.  Notice any situation that allows you to practice any of the tools learned to date.




Stretch Of The Week