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"Chaim, what's wrong? You look a little upset."
"Dad, I'm so upset that I could just cry."
"What happened, Chaim?"
"We had a test in school last week and we received our grades today. I didn't do so well."
"Chaim, don't worry about that. A low grade just means that you have to try harder the next time. Almost everyone gets a low grade eventually. The wisest of all men, King Solomon said, 'A tzaddik falls seven times and gets up.' Pick yourself up and try again."
"Dad, you always have the right advice for me. However, there is more to the problem than the low grade. What really me upset me was one of the boys in the class. He caught a glimpse of my paper, stood up in class, and announced, 'Chaim got a 65 in the test!' Dad, I was so embarrassed."
Chaim begins to sob softly on his father's shoulder.
"Chaim, Chaim. It will be okay."
"No it won't be okay, Dad. I will never forgive that boy. Never never never!"
Chaim's father hugs and comforts him. Now is not the time to work out the problem. As the Mishna says in Pirkei Avos (4:23), "Do not appease a person when he is angry."
The next day, Chaim is in a much better mood.
"Chaim, do you want to talk about what happened in school yesterday?"
"Were you serious when you said that you would never forgive the boy who embarrassed you?"
"Yes I was Dad. You don't know how badly my feelings were hurt."
"Let me tell you a story that I am sure you already know. It is about Yosef HaTzaddik. His brothers cast him into a pit and left him there to die. They later reconsidered and wanted to sell him into slavery. They returned to the pit but he was already gone, sold as a slave by a band of traveling merchants. Yosef's brothers did a terrible thing to him. Do you know how a slave was treated? Could you imagine selling your own brother as a slave? That should have totally destroyed his life. Chaim, would you say that Yosef had a right to resent his brothers?"
"Would you say that he had every reason not to forgive them?"
"Read this verse, Chaim."
"He kissed all of his brothers and wept upon them."
"Rabbi Yishaya Halevi Horwitz, the Bible commentator who is known to us as the Shlah, (the contracted form of name of the book that he wrote, "Shnei Luchos HaBris",) explained this verse. 'Do you see how much a person needs to forgive and let things pass. They sinned against Yosef, and Yosef cried and kissed them.'"
"Is that really true Dad? Did Yosef really kiss his brothers after what they did to him?"
"He certainly did."
"That was much worse than what happened to me."
"It certainly was."
"I guess that I should really forgive that boy."
"I think you should Chaim."
"I feel better already, Dad. When you forgive someone, you get the bad feelings out of your heart."
"You also get at least two mitzvos: the mitzvah of not bearing a grudge against someone, and the mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew like yourself. Someone who knows how to forgive, really knows how to live!"
Kinderlach . . .
Did someone play a joke on you? Forgive him. Did someone insult you? Forgive him. Did someone borrow your favorite pen without permission? Forgive him. Did someone eat the last piece of cake in the refrigerator? Forgive him. Forgive everyone. Live a grudge-free life.
"Eli how are you? It's so good to see you. What's the matter, you look a little upset."
"I'll be okay Doni. It's really nothing, I suppose."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Well, Doni, a very embarrassing thing just happened to me."
"Yesterday I told a personal secret to a very good friend. I told him not to tell anyone, because it was very personal. Today three or four people came to me and asked me about the secret. I was so embarrassed that they knew about it. I feel terrible."
"Eli, now I understand what our sages wrote in the Gemora Bava Metzia, that embarrassing someone is like spilling their blood. I see how awful you feel from the embarrassment. You know, Eli, we can learn a lesson from everything that happens to us in life. I know that I have learned never to embarrass anyone."
"Doni, do you know that Yosef HaTzaddik, put his own life in danger to avoid embarrassing his brothers?"
"Really? What happened?"
"Here is the scenario. Yosef's brothers stood in front of the leader of Mitzraim, his servants, and guards. Little did they know that this powerful ruler was none other than their own brother Yosef, whom they had sold as a slave to a band of travelers many years earlier. He had made his way to Mitzraim and had risen to the position of second-in-command to the king. In his capacity as ruler, he had treated them harshly, giving them good reason to resent him. Now, he realized that the time had come to reveal his identity to his brothers. What should he do? To divulge his secret in the presence of the Mitzrim would cause them great shame and embarrassment. It would become public knowledge that they once sold their own brother as a slave, a shameful act. To send all of the Mitzrim guards out of the room would be very dangerous. Yosef would be alone with the people whom he had treated so harshly. If they chose to kill him, no one could stop them."
"Tell me Eli, how did Yosef deal with this dilemma?"
"Doni, our sages tell us in Gemora Kesuvos, 'It is better for a person to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to shame someone in public.' Yosef HaTzaddik risked danger to his own life rather than humiliate his brothers."
Kinderlach . . .
Before you say something about someone, think twice. Then think again. Could this thing be embarrassing? He got a low grade on the test. Her clothes are not so nice. He is always late. He is doing much better than last year. The teacher reprimanded her today. All of these things, besides being loshon hora, can also be embarrassing. We learn from Yosef HaTzaddik how terrible it is to embarrass someone. Don't get caught. Stop before you say it.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2015 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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