April 24, 1999 8 Iyar 5759
Day 24 of the Omer
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Do not take revenge or bear a grudge" (Vayikra 19:18)
We are all familiar with the concept of revenge. If someone does evil to us or holds back a favor from us, we are not permitted to retaliate on the basis of his action. Rather, we must try to help out the person regardless of what he did to us. The second half of the verse is not as well known but equally important. Do not bear a grudge means that if someone holds back something from us, we are not allowed to remind him of it even if we do him the favor. We may not say, "I'll lend you this item even though you didn't lend me the thing I asked you for." The Rambam says we are supposed to go even one step further and not have his refusal in our mind when we do him the favor. This takes a clear understanding that what happens to us is from Hashem. Even though that individual refused to do me a favor, as far as I am concerned, it wasn't from him but from Hashem. Therefore I will do him the favor and not even remember his refusal.
Although this is definitely not an easy task, if one accomplishes this commandment he will reinforce his faith in Hashem and it will give him the peace of mind which comes with the faith and trust in Hashem. Shabbat Shalom.
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And you shall love your fellow man as yourself, I am Hashem" (Vayikra 19:18)
Rabbi Akiva said that this is the fundamental rule of the Torah. Hillel said it another way: "What is hateful to you, do not do to others." The Talmud tells us (Sanhedrin 45a) that from this rule we learn that if there is a convicted criminal who must be put to death, give him an easy death. This seems difficult. Is this the love that the Torah is requiring of us? Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch explains that the trait of love that the Torah requires is more readily seen in the case of the criminal. It is only natural for a person to want to show love and kindness to a person who deserves it. However, if a person is a criminal, the natural tendency is to hate him. One naturally wants to embarrass and humiliate him. However, the Torah teaches us otherwise. Even though he has sinned and he must be killed, and it is good for society and it is even for his benefit, nevertheless we must try to feel love towards him. For even though it is a misvah to hate the real wicked people, this is only as long as he doesn't accept his punishment. But, with the person who is going to be punished we must try to make it easier and avoid humiliating him.
Hashem brought us into this world for us to perfect ourselves as much as possible. The practice of this rule will bring us a long way towards that goal. Shabbat Shalom.
"And there shall be no man in the Tent of Meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the sacred place" (Vayikra 16:17)
When the High Priest performed the special service on Yom Kippur, it could have been vary easy for him to feel conceited. He had been the only one chosen from the entire nation to perform the sacred service on this most holy of days. He might easily focus on the honor he was receiving from others and how other people would be thinking of him with respect and even awe. Therefore, the Torah tells him, "There shall be no man," that is, the High Priest should mentally view the world as if there were no other people in existence. He should do this when he enters the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the sacred place. By having this mental attitude, he frees himself from any thoughts of seeking honor and approval.
This mental technique is a very useful one for people who are overly self-conscious and constantly worry about what other people are thinking of them. They should imagine for a while that other people do not exist. If others do not exist, one does not need to be concerned with what anyone thinks of him. Even if you are only able to do this for a short while, it will enable you to decrease your worrying about what others think of you. A large part of the concern for the approval of others is based on illusion. In truth, others do not think about you as much as you think they do. Even if they are thinking about you, much of what they think makes absolutely no practical difference in your life. The illusion that there are no other people around will enable you to free yourself from the harm and pain caused by that other illusion. (Growth through Torah)
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