36 - Do Not Take Revenge part 3

In a case where someone has offended us personally, by insulting or shaming us in public, or causing bodily harm, the issurim of nekima & netira do not apply.

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 as many people as you can that you are holding a grudge against (even a little one) and try to see the Hashgacha Pratis in each case.

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

Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #36

LO SIKOM V’LO SITOR - לא תקם ולא תטר

DO NOT TAKE REVENGE AND DO NOT BEAR A GRUDGE PART 3

Halacha

In a case where someone has offended us personally, by insulting or shaming us in public, or causing bodily harm, the issurim of nekima & netira do not apply.  Of course, it would be praiseworthy conduct to overlook the offense and take the attitude that the offender acted as a tool to bring us a lesson.  However, according to the letter of the law, in this case we would be permitted to harbor a grudge in our hearts.  Chazal tell us that “any talmid chacham that does not take revenge and bear a grudge is not a talmid chacham”.  How can that be?  They are referring to matters of a personal offense.  The talmid chacham is a representative of Kavod HaTorah and should keep a mental record of the offense.  All of this is true until the offender comes to apologize.  He should then be forgiven (Mishpetei Hashalom 3:10-11).

According to more stringent poskim, if the talmid chacham is shamed in public it is as if the honor of the Torah has been violated.  A talmid chacham is defined as one who has reached a level of knowledge and leadership qualities that his community has an obligation to honor him.

Sometimes, when someone has been badly hurt by another person, he becomes so angry that he demands that HaShem punish the other person.  However, HaShem does not approve of this.  Someone who causes his friend to be punished is not admitted to the company of HaShem (Maseches Shabbos).  This is the case when there is recourse in a human bais din.  If there is no bais din available, or the offender refuses to abide by the ruling of a bais din, then we may take the case to din shamayim.  However, the chachamim were still wary of doing so.

These issurim do not apply in the face of an attack.  If a bully starts hitting us, we are permitted to hit back, as long as we are still worked up about it.  The Torah recognizes human nature.  A person cannot be expected to stand by while someone is assailing him, physically or verbally.  The exception to this rule is in the case of one’s parents.  If they are attacking us we are commanded to keep quiet.

There are rare occasions when revenge for a constructive purpose (l’toeles) is permitted, but only under the guidance of a Rav.

Some people find the inner strength not to respond, as they are concerned that they might lose control and become too angry.  Not everyone can reach this level, and it is not demanded of everyone, but of those who do it is said of them that they are very beloved by HaShem.

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

Story(based on a true story)

As a woman living in a frum community, there are many opportunities to enhance our yiddishkeit.  We can learn with a friend, become a Partner in Torah, or go to an abundance of available shiurim.  Throughout the year, words of Torah are given over in many shapes and forms.  Our rabbeim give shiurim, women in the community speak, or lecturers are brought in from out of town.

As my home schedule is very busy, it’s often hard for me to get to attend these events.  I’m actually jealous of women who get to go.  Many times I get a postcard or see a flyer for a famous speaker that I want to hear.  I put it on my calendar and try to figure out how to get there.  I make crazy arrangements for childcare, put the kids to sleep, and run out to catch any part of it that I can.

One time a few years ago my friend Shira called.  There was a speaker coming in from out-of-town who she knew I loved.  After a little phone tag, we got to talk and she excitedly told me about the upcoming shiur.  It was hashgacha pratis!  I was going through a really hard time and had spent a lot of time listening to tapes by this Rebbetzin related to the issues I was having.

The date crept closer and I scrambled to make sure my husband could watch the kids after I put them to bed, even though they were very difficult and needed a lot of attending to.  He knew how much this meant to me and encouraged me to go.  I hadn’t slept at all the night before and was really not interested in getting dressed and going out in the cold, but I was determined to talk to my mentor after the speech.

My friend picked me up and we made it just in time to hear the introductions.  The shiur was inspiring and meaningful, even as I fought to keep my eyes open.  Afterwards, there was a line as big as the room of women waiting to speak to the speaker.  As my topic was very sensitive, my friend and I waited until the very end before I approached her.  Shira hung back and waited for me, knowing I needed the support but not wanting to interfere.

There were a few other people hanging around waiting to talk to the Rebbetzin, so when I finally was standing next to her and asked if I could discuss something personal she asked me to wait until everyone had left.  Exhausted but desperate for words of encouragement and maybe a bracha, I hung on waiting my turn.

Finally, she was free.  I went up to her and explained my situation.  After a minute of listening to me, she gave me a canned platitude and said she was really tired and had a long ride back, but hatzlacha to me.

Huh?  What?  How could that have happened?  I was stunned and not sure what to do as she made her way out.  Shira looked at me quizzically and I shrugged, in tears.  She gave me a hug and we left.

How disappointing.  I couldn’t believe it.  Not only did she not give me the time of day, but all the chizuk I was craving disappeared.  How could someone who speaks of love and understanding be so rude and unhelpful?  My life was hard enough already, and then I felt completely dismissed by someone I looked up to.

I promised myself that I’d never go to another shiur again.  Why bother?  What good would come of it?  I threw the postcards directly in the garbage and wouldn’t even look at the flyers.  As time went on, I realized that I was spiting myself by not trying to go again.  From time to time when I could, I went to more shiurim.  But NEVER by that rebbetzin!  Why should I, I thought.  She’s hypocritical, not practicing what she says.  She’s not nice, so why should I support her?

Even recently, somebody told me about a shiur she gave and I thought to myself-glad I hadn’t heard about it, I wouldn’t go anyway.

Then I learned about revenge and harboring a grudge and how bad these issurim are for us.  I started thinking about it and tried to look at it from a different point of view.  Maybe the Rebbetzin herself was having a bad day that day.  Maybe she was jetlagged or over stressed.  Perhaps she simply didn’t know how to handle my situation and was flustered by my question.  Is harboring a grudge against her and taking revenge by not attending her shiurim really worth it?

I promised myself, bli neder, that the next time she comes to town I will make an effort to go to hear her, and let go of my anger in my heart.

Discussion Question Options:

After learning these two issurim, what are some ways you can work on them?

It is very hard to accept that we are given a nisayon through a person in the form of someone who wrongs us.  What can we tell ourselves to help us accept this?

Often we harbor a grudge and take revenge without even realizing it.  How can we protect ourselves from doing this?

Stretch of the Week:

Do something positive for someone with whom you are upset.

 

Stretch Of The Week