||MIDOS - THE ESSENTIAL JOB OF LIFE, PART FIVE: THIRTY GOOD MIDOS EXPLAINED [29 and 30]
- Friday, February 15 '02 - Parshas Terumah 5762
MIDOS - THE ESSENTIAL JOB OF LIFE, PART FIVE: THIRTY GOOD MIDOS EXPLAINED [29 and 30]
29. HAPPINESS (SIMCHA) - defined by Orchos Tzadikim as "calm in the heart without any sense of wound." Happiness is key to functioning in life and in a relationship. "Who is truly rich? The one who is HAPPY with what he has (Pirkei Avos, chapter four)." Appreciation of all benefits that you have is important, particularly when you appropriately express appreciation to G-d or to a person to whom you owe it. However, appreciation, without happiness, does not alone assure that you are happy with what you have. When what you have makes you happy, it reflects the inner capacity to be happy. When you need external things to seem to feel happy, it reflects the absence of intrinsic, genuine happiness. Life comes with myriad demands, difficulties, pressures and obligations. To deal and cope with the world optimally, the Jew should be fully happy - in plain normal life, without dependency upon externals. Then, one will be able to interchange on a happy basis in all dealings, challenges and relationships. From my counseling experience, I consistently see that one who is unhappy and looks to others for happiness will only spread unhappiness. One can only make others happy if he is happy inside, and one can only be made to be happy by others if he is happy inside. And, being happy, one can fulfill the scriptural imperative to "Serve G-d with happiness (Psalms 100:2)."
30. PEACE (SHALOM) - the highest value and goal of all; there is nothing more important than ongoing, optimal harmony, peace, calm, unity, tranquility. Peace is the most important trait for human relations. Shalom is the only pipeline through which blessing comes down to earth from Heaven (Bamidbar Raba). G-d hates and punishes fighting, anger, hate or separation. If you have to back-off, keep quiet or give in; peace is more important. You have to spend money, impose upon yourself, strive actively and relentlessly - to bring and maintain peace. If you ever have a question of "principle," ask a competent and experienced orthodox rabbi for Torah instruction and for establishment of TRUE priorities. [The Torah's] "ways are sweet and all of its paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). Everything must be directed towards, and be consistent with, shalom, so that Hashem will direct blessing to where peace is found, and to where unity is achieved for the long-run.
Psalms 34:15 says, "Love peace and pursue it." Based on this verse, the midrash (Vayikra Raba) cites that peace (shalom) is different from other mitzvos. Other mitzvos apply when they come to you. If I find a lost article, it is a mitzva to return it to its owner. Before the mitzva applies, I have to find the property. If I don't happen to find lost property, there's no mitzva. I can't hurry and keep shabos on Tuesday. I have to wait till it comes to me.
Peace is different. Every Jew is obligated to actively seek, promote, build and maintain peace. You don't wait for it to come. You make it happen. You exhibit character and courage. You get obstacles or inhibitions out of the way. You forgive. You travel to another place to bring about peace. You exert yourself actively and creatively...in your own relationships and in those of any other Jews. You appease a person in a quarrel (whether his quarrel is with you or another).
Whenever Moshe's brother Aaron heard that there was any argument between Jews, he ran to make peace between them (Sanhedrin 6b). When Aaron died, the Torah (Numbers 20:29) says that the entire Jewish nation mourned for 30 days. Why such nationwide tribute and grief? Because when two people would quarrel, Aaron would quickly run to one and say, "Your friend feels so badly to be in a quarrel with you. He is ashamed for wronging you. He told me he loves you so much but doesn't know the words with which to make up." He would stay with the person until all enmity was gone from the person's heart. Aaron would then quickly run to the second friend and say the same. Both would say, "How can I remain in a fight with such a beloved friend?" Both would go to the other and meet and, without saying a word, each would hug the other and be best of friends (Avos DeRebi Noson, chapter 12). Aaron did this to make peace all of his life. Israel loved him.
The Torah (Leviticus 26:6) tells of the bounty of the land of Israel (rain, crops, fruit, wealth) and G-d says, "And I will give the land peace." Rashi writes, "Perhaps you will say, 'I have what to eat and drink, but without peace there is nothing.' So the verse teaches, 'And I will give the land peace,' from which we know that peace is EQUAL TO ALL other blessings combined together."
"Learned people increase peace in the world (Brachos 64a)." By definition, if someone decreases peace (arguing, being adversarial, insulting, instigating, etc.), no matter how much "book learning" he has, he does not know Torah. "Great is peace and hated is fighting (Sifri Naso 42)."
"If a person cannot afford to buy [both] a candle for shabos and wine for kiddush, a shabos candle takes precedence; and, similarly, if a person cannot afford to buy [both] a candle for shabos and a candle for Chanuka, a shabos candle takes precedence; because of PEACE in the house, for there is no PEACE without light [which the relatively larger shabos or yom tov candle provides; Orech Chayim, Hilchos Shabos, 263:3]."
"A pauper who sustains himself from charity must sell his clothing, or must borrow or must rent himself [as a hired worker] in order to have wine for the four [Passover seder] cups" [Orech Chayim, Hilchos Pesach, 472:13]. "And the [yom tov/holiday] candle for the house is a higher priority than the four cups [if he can't obtain money for both wine and candle] because of PEACE in the house" (Mishna Brura #41, commenting on the above Passover halacha].
The fifth chapter of Pirkei Avos tells us, "Every argument which is for the sake of Heaven, will, in the end, endure. Every argument which is not for the sake of Heaven, will not, in the end, endure. Which controversy was for the sake of Heaven? The debates of Hillel and Shammai. Which controversy was not for the sake of Heaven? The rebellion of Korach and his group."
The commentaries explain that a key differentiating point between arguments which are or aren't for the sake of Heaven is whether it is only a quest for G-d's truth in the question at hand. Hillel and Shammai analyzed Torah law and came to differing conclusions. But they always were gentle and at peace with each other, so much so that the students from both schools married each other's families. Their only controversy was establishing G-d's truth so that they could determine His law and perform His will. There was no other "agenda," no personality battles, no quest for victory over the other. To this day, every day, the words of Hillel and Shammai are studied in the Talmud.
Rabbi Shnayur Kotler z'l of Lakewood had an extremely busy schedule. He once had to run into a chasuna, having time only to say "mazal tov." He told his driver that he would be back immediately. After ten minutes, the driver started getting nervous. When the Rosh Yeshiva returned, he understood the driver would be concerned over the delay. "I had a machlokess [dispute] in halacha [Torah law] with another rov who was at this chasuna. I spent ten minutes speaking with him in a friendly manner, so that he and the public would know there is no personal animosity."
"Great is peace between husband and wife (Chulin 141a)."
Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel (in the Talmud, Avos DeRebi Noson 28:3) says that a person who brings peace into his house is considered by G-d as if he brought peace on the entire Jewish people. Consider that this means: the merit for making peace in your home is as if you made EVERY Jewish individual or group in any argument with another come to peace. The reward is unfathomably huge!
In Parshas Noach, we see that G-d destroyed the world with a flood for the crime of "chomos," which Chazal define as "petty theft." For example, if a person owned a rice store, everyone in town would steal one piece of rice. The store owner would not sue thieves for stealing one piece of rice but since everyone in town was stealing in "cute" ways that were technically not a basis for suit, everyone got away with it while they drove each other bankrupt. For this, mankind had to be destroyed. except righteous Noach and his family. At the end of the Parsha, mankind declares war on G-d, builds a tower in Bavel and seeks to kill G-d. Idolatry is one of the three sins for which man must give his life rather than violate. Since the whole world was committing the worst level of idolatry: to "kill" G-d, you would think that Hashem would have wanted to destroy the world for building the tower to Heaven and universal rebellion against Him, but all G-d did was "invent" languages, so that they could not communicate and consummate their plot. Why was the severe punishment doled out by G-d for petty stealing while the major sin of universal idolatry, at its worst level, was merely responded to by the "invention" of different languages? Because by stealing, people were hurting one another while with their rebellion, people had universal shalom. So great is peace that G-d will not let Soton punish people for as serious a sin as idolatry when they have peace, because "peace is the greatest thing [gadol hashalom, Midrash Raba]."
There is no merit for saying mourner's Kaddish without shalom. The purpose of Kaddish is a public Kidush HaShem as a merit for the deceased. If there is argument, this is chilul HaShem [profanation of G-d], which defeats the purpose. If more than one are saying Kaddish, they must do so with unity. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein z'l said that if someone argues in a minyan over who should say Kaddish, the merit is taken away from the soul related to the person who argued and goes to the soul related to the person who kept shalom.
All major parts of prayer, and Shas, conclude with peace. For example, the Birkas Kohanim ends with peace. We culminate the Shmoneh Esray with the prayer for peace. If one does not truly want peace with every one, he says G-d's name in vain there - every time he davens! The last Mishna in Shas ends speaking about peace. Everything must culminate in peace.
Don't wait for peace to come on its own. Love it and chase it. At all times, "gadol hashalom," the greatest thing in human relations is peace.