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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Acharei Mos/Kedoshim

Difficult People

"Oy, I am so angry at that Mr. Boor. He is just no good!"

The wife was a bit startled by her husband's emotional reaction. He was usually so cool, calm, and collected.

"What's troubling you dear? Can I help with something?"

"You can listen to my story, and help me unburden my heart. That Mr. Boor has hurt me so many times. I am just fed up."

"What did he do to you?"

The husband goes on to describe Mr. Boor's less-than-commendable behavior. The wife listens patiently, careful not to interrupt.

"I see. My dear, I know a little bit about Mr. Boor. Do you mind if I share with you a little tochacha (constructive criticism)?"

"Go right ahead, my dear wife. Tochacha is a mitzvah in this week's parasha. I am anxious to hear my faults so that I can improve upon them."

"Since you mentioned the parasha, my dear, let us look into it. 'You shall judge your fellow Jew correctly' (Vayikra 19:15). Rashi comments that this is the mitzvah of 'dan lecaf zechus' (giving the benefit of the doubt). I know a little bit about Mr. Boor. He has gone through traumatic experiences in his life. They have left him emotionally scarred, which explains his behavior."

"I didn't realize that."

"'Do not hate your brother in your heart' (Vayikra 19:17). One who resents a person for an unjustified reason transgresses this aveyra (sin)."

"Oy vey."

"'Do not bear a grudge' (Vayikra 19:18). One who does not forgive or correct the person who hurt him, rather harbors the feelings of resentment in his heart, commits this sin."

"Rachmana litzlan (May Hashem save us)."

"If a person then degrades someone who hurt him in order to take revenge, he has made two mistakes. He has taken revenge (Vayikra 19:18), and he has spoken loshon hora (Vayikra 19:16)."

"Oy va voy va voy. What have I done? How can I ever do teshuva on so many aveyros?"

"Very simple. Go to the root of the problem. It all stems from resentment. Turn it around! Love Mr. Boor! The Torah commands us, 'Love your neighbor as yourself' (Vayikra 19:18). When you truly love someone, it becomes impossible to do anything bad to him."

"You are 100% right my dear. However, it is not so easy. He is such a difficult person."

"Can you avoid him?"

"I have tried, but it is just impossible."


"Wonderful? What is so wonderful about being in the company of a difficult person?"

"It is wonderful because it shows that Hashem loves you. He has sent you a big matanah (gift) - a difficult person."

"Can you please explain, my dear? I tend to think that Mr. Boor is a curse, not a gift."

"Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l spoke a lot about this subject. Difficult people bring out the best in us. They help us refine our middos (character traits). They teach us savlanut (patience), rachmonus (mercy), and understanding. They teach us to control our anger, and to perform acts of chessed (kindness) without expecting any reward. We should thank Hashem for sending these difficult people, and bless the people themselves for their role in helping us to become great."

"I see. I never thought about Mr. Boor in those terms. I have to change my way of thinking. When I do that, it will be easy for me to love Mr. Boor. He is doing me a big favor. He is helping me grow. The temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the eternity that I gain by coming to a higher madrayga (spiritual level)."

"My dear, you've got it right. May Hashem help you to become a big tsaddik!"


Kinderlach . . .

Love Hashem's children. Especially the difficult ones. Do you have a hard time with a friend, neighbor, classmate, teacher, or relative? Wonderful! Hashem loves you! He is sending you a big opportunity to improve yourself. Have patience for this person. Understand him. Have mercy on him. Help him if you can. You are really helping yourself. Love him and bless him for all the good that he is bringing you. Difficult people are a blessing in disguise.

The Love Book

"Where are you going Yossie?"

"Outside to play, Imma."

"Who are you going to play with?"


"Yossie, do you ever play with Yankie?"

"Not really."

"He's a very nice boy."

"I know. We just never got started on the right foot. I don't really like him."

"Would you like to be his friend?"

"Sure, Imma."

"Would you like some advice on how to be his friend?"

"Yes, Imma."

"Tell me something good about Yankie."

"He's a good student."

"Okay. I'm writing this down. 'I love Yankie because he's a good student.' What other good things can you tell me about him?"

"He's very polite."

"I like Yankie because he is very polite."

And so, Yossie and his mother continue writing down Yankie's good points. Each one begins with, "I like Yankie because . . ."

"Okay Yossie. Everything is written down. Please read this list.

Yossie reads through the list. He begins to warm up towards Yankie. He feels better and better about him, as he mentions each of his good points.

"You know, Imma, Yankie is a pretty good guy."

"He has many good points, Yossie. If you want to befriend Yankie, read this list over once a day. You will focus on his good points, and like him."

"You shall love your fellow as yourself" (Vayikra 19:18). Sometimes this mitzvah is easy and sometimes it is hard. Some people are more difficult to love than others. Yet, we must make our best effort to love all of our countrymen. Spend time thinking about the other person's good points. Then write them down. Review the list daily. Watch you feelings of love grow.

Kinderlach . . .

The mitzvah of loving our fellow Jews is very important. It is the source of all good middos (character traits). It will stamp out loshon hora, jealousy, and hatred. It will increase peace and unity and ultimately bring moshiach. How do we learn to love someone? Write a book about him called the "Love Book". This book is a list of all of his good points. Each point begins with the words, I love him because he is ______'. Read the Love Book every day. See how easy it is to love a Jew.

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