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by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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And the firstborn bore a son, and she called his name Moav. He is the progenitor of Moabite nation to this day.
After returning from a journey to the countries of the Far North, Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the famous author of Michtav Me'eliyahu, described his trip.
"I saw a herd of hungry wolves running and searching for food. They found the carcass a small animal abandoned on the road. Immediately they all pounced on the animal, but not one of them could eat it, since each was jumping on the other, not allowing anyone else to take even the smallest morsel. They bit one another and fought with each other until they were all wounded and blood was pouring from them. The fight continued until they were all sprawled on the snow in exhaustion and some even died.
"Only the few strong ones were able to sink their teeth into the small carcass. A few moments passed, and behold these were also fighting, scratching and biting one another, until finally one wolf grabbed the carcass and ran away.
"I saw the victor run far away, leaving behind him a long trail of blood from his wounds. I saw that the others were badly wounded, with blood flowing from them, their strength gone, and more had been killed. What had they gained from their fight?" This is the result when someone fights and does not give in. (K'tzes HaShemesh Bi-Gvuraso p. 266)
From the story told by Rabbi Dessler we can learn how useless it is to argue, since no one really wins. This is so true in marriage, where love and harmony are essential rules.
"And so she called his name Moav."(1) Rabbi Chiya said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, "G-d does not hold back reward, even for pleasant speech. Lot's older daughter called her son Moav, which means 'from a father,' referring to the fact that Moav was conceived through relations she had with her father, Lot. G-d said to Moshe, 'Do not make war with them;'(2) war is not allowed with the Moabites, but enslaving them is allowed. On the other hand, the other daughter named her son Ben Ami, 'the son of my nation,' which does not specify with whom she had relations. Therefore G-d said to Moshe, 'When you shall come near the sons of Ammon, do not antagonize them, and do not provoke them.'(3) From this verse we learn that even slavery is not allowed with the Ammonites that are the descendants of Ben Ami."
How can we explain why the older daughter was punished by having her children enslaved, when it seems she was more meritorious in acting quickly? And how does the punishment correspond to her sin? Why was the younger daughter punished so that she does not have Jewish descendants until four generations after her sister? Hoe do we explain that the older daughter was both punished and rewarded for the same action?
The older daughter was lacking in tact when she called her so Moav. For by giving him this name, she was revealing to everyone that she had had relations with her father. The verse says, "Happy is the one who is forgiven for his transgressions, his sins are covered."(4) We learn from here that when sins are not known, a person should keep them concealed rather than reveal them. (5) When some one proclaims his sins publicly, he shows that he is not embarrassed about what he did. The first step to Teshuvah is regretting our actions. When someone does not even show this regret, he is far from correcting himself.
This was the fault of the older daughter. She proclaimed her mistake in public, thereby showing that she felt no regrets for her actions. Although she felt it necessary to replenish the world by sleeping with her father, it does not mean she should have been glad about having done this act. It should have been more upsetting for her to have had to resolve the problem in this manner.
When people lack this sensitivity and regret, it is necessary to keep them busy so that they will not be able to do more sins. That is what Pharaoh meant when he proclaimed, "Make the work heavier on the people and they will be active in it, and they will not turn to false things.
"(6) That also explains why the older daughter's descendants were punished with slavery. It was really a Chesed from the Alm-ghty, since they had lost their feeling of restraint. The constant slavery was the remedy they needed, since it prevented them from committing more sins.
The younger daughter was punished by not having Jewish b descendants until four generations after her sister. This also corresponded to her sin. Since they thought that there was a mitzvah to have relations with their father in order to perpetuate the human race, why did the younger daughter wait an extra night? This hesitation on her part shows that she preferred to see whether her sister would succeed. But in truth a person must be quick to do a mitzvah and not hesitate.
Our sages say, "People that hasten, come early to do mitzvos."(7)_ when the mitzvos are important in a person's eyes, he does not procrastinate to do them. He runs to fulfil them lest he lose the opportunity. By acting in this way we are showing that the mitzvos are pleasant in our eyes and that we very much want to do them.
Since the younger daughter was slow in doing the mitzvah, her punishment was that G-d was slow in bringing her children into the Jewish fold, and she had to wait four extra generations for the privilege. This corresponds to her sin.
The older daughter was in fact punished and rewarded for two different actions. On the one hand she was rewarded for being quick to do the mitzvah, but on the other, after she had done it she was punished for the lack of modesty by calling her son Moav. From here we learn that a sin does not extinguish a mitzvah and the reward for our mitzvos remains with us always.
Never should a person leave an unpleasant feeling between himself and his wife. If there is ever a quarrel or some resentment, a person must be quick to patch things up. As our sages say, "people that hasten, come early to do mitzvos."(8) Maintaining Shalom Bayis is a great mitzvah. The Torah tells us that it is so important that one is even allowed to erase G-d's name in order to gain it, as in the matter with the Sotah. As time passes, resentment grows and may linger so that it will become even harder to patch up later. A person should feel that the lack of peace in home, is the worst possible thing that can happen. Just as, if there were a fire in the house, he would feel the most urgent need is to extinguish it, so also should we feel about the lack of peace. Seeking solutions has the utmost priority. Never overlook the lack of peace assuming it will take care of itself. The longer the situation remains as it is, the harder it is to cure. Therefore there is no time to waste at all.
The problem with making peace is that our pride is involved. We usually wait for the other party to make the first gesture towards peace, since we tend to think that he is at fault. Our sages say that a person can't see his own blemishes,(9) and in every argument each side believes that they are right, since they do not see any blemishes in themselves. They look at themselves as perfect and assume that only other people make mistakes. If that is the prevailed attitude, then peace will be unattainable.
The correct attitude is that a person should say to himself, "I must have made some mistake, otherwise an argument could not have arisen." It takes two to argue; you simply cannot argue with yourself. a person must realize that if there is an argument, then both parties are to blame, and each must make all possible efforts to end the argument.
There is no room for games of waiting to see who will make amends first, when it comes to the important issue of Shalom bayis. Each one should try to be the first to make the effort to restore peace. You must look at it as an important mitzvah that several people must do, and everyone should be the first to try to accomplish it. that is the way we should approach peace in our home.
Try beginning the attempt at peace by saying, "I know I made a mistake, and I am sorry." Even if it is not true it is permitted to tell a lie in such a case for sake of peace.(10) be brave and take the blame, as this is a sure way of ending the argument. If that does not suffice, then other methods should be used, but procrastinating in such an important matter will be tragic.
We learn from Lot's older daughter how great the reward is for hastening to do a mitzvah.
1. Bereshis 19:37
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network