35 - Do Not Take Revenge part 2

If someone owes us money or compensation of any kind, we are not expected to forget their debt, but we should not harbor a grudge against them.

We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chusim for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.

Review

Last week’s stretch of the week was:  Think of one case in which someone wronged you and you let go of it in your heart.

Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.

Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #35

LO SIKOM V’LO SITOR - לא תקם ולא תטר

DO NOT TAKE REVENGE AND DO NOT BEAR A GRUDGE PART 2 – Monetary Revenge   

Halacha

If someone owes us money or compensation of any kind, we are not expected to forget their debt, but we should not harbor a grudge against them.  Instead, if he does not pay his debt we should take the case to a bais din and get what he owes us according to din Torah. 

When revenges and grudges are taken out of the social picture, then arguments and machlokes within our community are reduced.  Love, peace, and brotherhood prevail, and we can really be unified “as one man”, as HaShem wants us to be. 

The halacha does not deny us the right to claim money that is owed to us.  The Choshen Mishpat is devoted to halachos related to money matters.  Everyone is responsible to pay what he owes, return what he took unlawfully, and to pay for damage he caused.  According to the Torah, anything we do to acquire what is ours does not fall into the category of nekima and netira.

However, if it is a small loss, we should try to be yielding “lif’nim mi’shu’ras ha’din” rather than fight over every penny.  As Chazal state-one of the reasons Yerushalayim was destroyed was that people were too exacting in the din. 

We are not required to lend something to someone else.  However, if we refuse to lend something based on a need for revenge, we are violating lo sikom.  If we try to rise above the urge for revenge and agree to lend something, but do it by saying “I’ll give you this item even though you wouldn’t give me something”, then we are violating lo sitor by bearing a grudge in our hearts. 

These mitzvos are found in Parshas Kedoshim-“Lo sikom v’lo sitor .. Ani HaShem”,   Do not focus your attention and energy on concentrating on the unjust behavior of others even if you are directly affected by it.  The Torah forbids us to express bitterness in action towards the wrongdoer, in words to him and even the non- expression of these negative feelings by absorbing and carrying them around with us, expressed and directed at no one but ourselves.  Absorbing and carrying around bitterness is detrimental even to a person's health and greatly hampers a person’s advancement in life.

(Excerpted from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rav Yitzchok Silver)

Story(based on a true story)

I was so excited!  A moving truck on our block had just pulled up with frum Jews.  Oh, how I had hoped that when my neighbors sold their house it would be bought by another Jewish family.  Three years previously, the realtor promised us that there would be so many families like us moving into our area that it would soon be like a bungalow colony.  I waited and waited, but felt so alone having to walk to the other side of town every Shabbos if we wanted to see people.

I couldn’t wait to have someone to hang out with and kids my children could play with, to share meals or just borrow a cup of sugar.  I gave my new neighbors a day or so, and then showed up with a welcome basket of some goodies.  Sara was a sweetheart, and her husband and mine soon got along.  Most of their kids were similar ages to my kids, and soon we had our own little bungalow colony.

Not long after they moved in, Sara stopped by to borrow that cup of sugar, but she needed a whole bag.  No problem, I thought, still excited by our new neighbors. Then her husband borrowed the lawn mower and a hammer from my husband and forgot to return them.  After waiting two Sundays, my husband had no choice but to go ask him for it back-our lawn was a forest! 

I suggested that we share carpooling duties, as our kids had similar schedules.  Sara jumped at the chance, and we set up a schedule to accommodate us both.  Then one morning my kids were all dressed and ready and waiting, and waiting.  I called over to their house and Sara answered groggily “-Oh, I just woke up, could you drive my turn just this time?”  I ran to get dressed and got everyone there in time before having to write late notes for everyone.  

Then came the call one day when I was in the city, nowhere near home.  “Bracha, could you please get the kids?  I’m stuck at the mall, there was a sale I just couldn’t miss...”  Um, how could I possibly get there? But, I ran like crazy to get back in time so the poor kids wouldn’t be left standing in the cold.  And did she ask me if I needed anything from the mall?-nope.

Ok, I could deal with these little issues.  Let it go, I told myself-it’s not worth it.  Until things started to add up-the chicken needed an hour before Shabbos, the sefer that we never saw again, the vacuum cleaner that came back broken, and much more. Then the resentment started to build up.  We almost never asked to borrow anything; I try to be as organized as possible so as not to run out of things.  I knew about not bearing a grudge, and they were really good friends.  I had no idea what to do.

One day, my son Shmuel came to me with a problem.  He told me that his friend Yaakov from next door always asked to borrow his bike.  He didn’t like to say no, especially to such a good friend.  But one day it came back to him and the seat was torn.  Not wanting to pick a fight, he put some tape on it and didn’t say anything.  The next time it was lent out, Yaakov came back with his cheeks flaming from embarrassment.  The front wheel was broken and twisted.  Shmuel had to tell me the details so that I could help him deal with it.  Because it had become a rather sticky situation I felt I had no choice but to call Sara myself.

I spoke to Sara, and she automatically offered to replace the broken bike. That should have made me feel better, but it didn’t.  The grudge had taken hold in my heart and I couldn’t let go.  All the things they had borrowed and the times they had taken advantage of us started to build up in my mind.  I knew that the next time they asked to borrow something I would blurt out how I felt.

Hashgacha pratis always seems to happen in the most incredible ways.  As Yaakov sat on my husband’s lap that Shabbos reading over his homework sheets, the parsha “happened” to be K’doshim  in the which the mitzvos of Lo Sikom V’lo Sitor are mentioned.  I couldn’t believe that the very week I was struggling with this issue, my son’s parsha sheets were delivering me the message I didn’t to hear.  His Rebbe stressed that there’s a reason for everything.  HaShem puts all the people in our lives that we need to grow from right around us and it became apparent that He gave me our neighbors so I could work on this mitzva.  Although part of me felt like giving up and just selling the house to not have to deal with it all, I decided to be realistic put in the hard work.  Trust me, there are plenty of opportunities to work on it and don’t think I don’t flinch when they ask to borrow something. Now however, I really try hard to evaluate what the item is, and often my answer is that I can’t do them that favor or lend them something.  I discussed it with Shmuel and made sure he understood the importance of this mitzvah-better for him to learn it earlier than me.

Discussion Question Options:

Have you ever lent something to someone that you really didn’t want to?  Did you regret it?

Do you find it hard to let go of a grudge or can you chalk it up to hashgacha pratis?

Did you ever go out of your way to take revenge on someone you felt wronged you monetarily (i.e. borrowed something, took money from you, etc.)?  How could you have changed your response?

Stretch of the Week:

Think of someone you are holding a grudge against (even a little one) and try to see the hashgacha pratis in that case.

 

Stretch Of The Week