Friday, December 10, 2010

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Bearing a Grudge

A Dvar Torah for Parshat Vayigash by Reb Ari Waldman

"Thank you for helping me change my tire", Reuvain said to Shimon. Shimon replies "there's no need"! "Chanie thank you for sending over the food after the birth of my son" says Sarah. Chanie replies "there's no need to thank me"! But there is a need!! Reuvain and Sarah are both grateful for the favors they received and they want to thank the people that helped them. Isn't that a need?

The Sefer Lekach Tov quotes Harav Yerucham Levovitz from his sefer Da'as Torah who says "a person who refuses to receive thanks from his friend should look inside himself! Does your refusal come from the completely altruistic desire to do kindness, or does it come from the subconscious desire to have your friend owe you one!!It's quite possible you want to keep him forever indebted to you! Someone who is truly kind will always give his friend the opportunity to repay him! He's actually morally obligated to allow his friend to repay him at the first opportunity possible!"

This idea is brought down in the Midrash. When Hashem commanded us to light the menorah Hashem says to Moshe: Take olive oil…not that I need the light but just as I light up the desert for the B'nei Yisrael so too they should light a lamp for Me".(Midrash Rabba Shmos 36, 2).

Until now we dealt with allowing someone to repay a favor. We find that it's not just a nice thing rather it's a moral obligation! A conduct we learn from Hashem. Set your friend free from his bondage to you as soon as you can!! What about bearing a grudge? "He was really rude to me doesn't he deserve to be treated in kind?"Or we can raise our grudge to righteous indignation saying: "Maybe Hashem wanted me to receive this hardship, but why did Mr. X have to bring it to me? It must be that he is evil, for Hashem uses evil people to mete out punishment! And if he's evil it's a mitzvah to hate him!!"

We can find the answer to that in our parsha! Yosef finally tells his brothers his true identity. "I'm Yosef, is my father still alive?" Then his brothers are deeply embarrassed by this revelation. So Yosef tells them "Now you didn't send me here Hashem did!! Hashem sent me so we could all survive this famine". Not only didn't Yosef bear a grudge, he made it look like they did him the biggest favor selling him to Mitzrayim!! He could have held his being sold against them."They were evil so it's a mitzvah for me to hate them!!" But he was on a totally different dimension where he cared only for his brothers' benefit. Therefore when he saw their discomfort, he explained to them how much they really benefitted him, themselves and the whole world!! For if Yosef didn't make it to Mitzrayim the famine would have been fatal for a lot of people!!

The Rosh in his Orchos Chaim says," Don't think badly of someone who wants to apologize to you whether he's true or false!" Harav Yitzchok Blazer explains that "it's human nature that when someone asks forgiveness to say "Oh it's nothing …Why make a big deal of it?" And that seems to be the correct response. But in reality it's the opposite! This response comes from the desire to keep your friend indebted to you! That's why the Rosh says "If he's sincere consider it as if he didn't do anything to you. And even if he's not sincere overlook it and consider him sincere. For, if you use the opportunity get back at him, you can be far worse than him!"

Yosef turned the way the brothers perceived themselves all around!! They could now bear to look Yosef in the face and look at themselves in a positive light! Let's all of us try to learn from Yosef! It may not be easy but it's sure worth it!!

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