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"ůso they [Yosef's brothers] hated him [Yosef]; and they could not speak to him peaceably" (Bereishis 37:4).

In the wonderful book "Growth Through Torah," Rabbi Zelig Pliskin records the comment of HaRav Yonoson Eibeshitz ztvk"l that it is possible that if the brothers would have spoken the matter over with Yosef they would have been able to make peace. The problem was that they were not talking to each other. This is what frequently happens when people are in the midst of a feud. One does not listen to the other. However, when one person tells another that he wronged him, the other person might apologize and accept upon himself not to do it again.

Rabbi Pliskin adds that if people who are involved in a heated dispute would talk things over with each other calmly, they would often see that they have nothing to argue about. Although they might still disagree in the end, the heavy emotionalism will be greatly diminished. When one hears clearly how the other person views the situation, he will understand why he thinks as he does and he himself will look at it differently.

My Rebby ztvk"l used to teach us that it is written that it is forbidden to bear a grudge in one's heart against another whom he suspects wronged him. We are obligated to ask him, "Why did you do such and such to me?"

The Rebby ztvk"l explained that if one uses this approach, it will bring peace because either he will justify himself and we will realize that he was right and won't be angry at him any more, or else, he will be forced to admit that he was wrong and will apologize.

However, the Rebby ztvk"l advised us that before we accuse him and ask him, "WHY you did such and such to me," we should first ask him "DID YOU REALLY DO SUCH AND SUCH TO ME." Very often one is sure that the other wronged him but it's a total mistake. He has received erroneous information. This also applies if he did, indeed, wrong him, because perhaps it was not as much or as bad as he had thought.

King Shlomo, the wisest of men, taught us that, "A soft answer turns away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger" (Mishlei 15:1).

By arguing with our opponents we only add fuel to the fire. Each one will, in turn, yell louder and louder and be more and more insulting. On the other hand, if we speak in soft tones, we will be able to have a mature debate without emotions interfering.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel