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We are commanded, several times throughout the Torah, to emulate Hashem’s exemplary qualities. One of these is described by Rabbi Simlai in the Talmud (Sotah 14a). “The Torah begins with lovingkindness and ends with lovingkindness. It begins with lovingkindness as it is written (Bereishis 3:21), ‘And Hashem, G-d, made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them.’ It ends with lovingkindness as it is written (Devarim 34:6), ‘And He buried him (Moshe) in Gei.’”
My Rebby, shlita, once told me a fantastic vort in the name of Hagaon, Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg shlita. It seems strange that in order to prove his point that the Torah begins with lovingkindness, Rabbi Simlai brought the passage describing Hashem clothing Adam and Chavah. The entire creation of the world and all of its inhabitants, which were all designed to serve Man, are all superb acts of lovingkindness! Why did Rabbi Simlai skip over all of them and only when he read how Hashem prepared clothing for the First Couple did he find what he was searching for?
Rav Scheinberg explained that there is a major difference between all of the previous acts of lovingkindness and the one Rabbi Simlai chose. All of us are capable of being benevolent to those whom we love. Many of us perform charitable acts all day long. But imagine if you went to great pains to prepare something spectacularly good for someone, and he, in his stupidity, didn’t appreciate your gesture and ruined everything you planned for him. As a result, he not only forfeited all of the goodness which you worked so hard for him to get but he brought tragedy and calamity upon himself instead. Totally frustrated with him, would you then continue to help him in his new situation or would you just say, “Listen, I’m very sorry, but I can’t help you anymore. You messed up all of my plans for you. You’re on your own now. You made the bed, now sleep in it. I’ll help those who cooperate with me and allow me to help them.”
Rabbi Simlai was not nearly as impressed with all of the lovingkindness the Almighty did from the beginning as he was with the fact that after Adam and Chavah totally messed up, in a really big way, Hashem still did not dump them. On the contrary, He continued to help them, as best as was possible, in their pitiful situation. Having created them with no need for clothes, no one would have blamed Hashem had He told them, “Now, after your great sin, you suddenly need clothes? Make them yourselves!” But He didn’t treat them that way at all. Hashem continued to love them, in spite of all the aggravation they caused Him; in spite of His great disappointment. Just as he provided all of their needs when He hoped that they would choose to go in His ways and benefit from all of the bliss He prepared for them, so He continued to provide their needs after their demise. Even then, he prepared clothes for them and dressed them. This is unbelievable lovingkindness which only Hashem is capable of performing.
But we are commanded to emulate His ways as best as we possibly can. And we must try to rule over our emotions and help our children; our students; our family and friends, even when they disappoint us greatly. It is not the one who only helps those who cooperate with him, who is praiseworthy. It is he or she who continues to help those who were a source of disillusionment, heartbreak and frustration who is really following in Hashem’s ways and is truly compassionate.
As this New Year begins, let us all try our best to be understanding, kind and caring to everyone, with no exception, and then we will be truly happy in this world and in the world-to-come.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network