||TRULY BEING A GOOD PERSON MERITS A GOOD
Thursday, August 17, '00 - Parshas Aikev 5760
Pirkei Avos (chapter three) tells us
that "All who are pleasing to one's fellow man are pleasing to Hashem and all who are
not pleasing to one's fellow man are displeasing to Hashem."
There is a rule that everything in the
written or oral Torah must have the briefest possible wording. Whenever a wording is
longer than the shortest way possible, the extra is intentionally there for an additional
Hebrew could convey "pleasing" in
a single word (e.g. noam, me'urav, etc.). Yet, in this mishna, Chazal chose a two-word
expression to convey the concept, "nocha haimenu." "Nocha" is from the
same root word as "menucha" [rest]. A more technical translation than
"pleasing" might be, "All whose spirit is restful from him." This
tells us something very profound.
A person may consider himself nice and
pleasant to people. However, some people might be nice in some ways and not nice in
others, nice to some people and not nice to others. They say, "Because of the part of
me that's nice, I expect G-d is happy with me." Chazal are telling us that G-d is
specifically NOT PLEASED by people who are only PART NICE, who are a MIXTURE of pleasant
and not, who are nice in some ways but bother and hurt people in other ways.
Only when a person is nice such that people
are AT REST from him [nocha haimenu]; they are calm, satisfied, comfortable with him; his
pleasantness is pure and complete - only that person is the one who G-d is pleased with!
In Birkas HaMazone, G-d is referred to as
the One Who "is good and does good." Is this not redundant? Would it not be
automatic that one who is good does good and that one who does good is good? We know that
Torah sources are not redundant, so we must study why the double terminology.
King David tells us [Psalm 34:15] there are
two basic steps to being good, "Turn away from evil and do good." On must first
clean the slate by abandoning doing bad and then must occupy himself with exclusively and
actively doing good.
One may be good but the person may be shy,
busy or otherwise closed off from regular beneficial interaction with the rest of the
world. He would never think of doing bad to another but he never actually does good for
others. His quality of being good is abstract and theoretical but he never brings his
abilities to actualization by being good to others to the extent of his potential. He may
be good and not do good.
A person may do good, but with an ulterior
motive. He may want something from you or may want to get your guard down so he can harm
you. He may do good and not be good.
G-d, Who serves as the model for what our
traits and behaviors aught to be, IS good and DOES good. That defines who truly is good:
the one who IS GOOD AT ESSENCE AND WHO DOES GOOD IN PRACTICAL ACTION. A good person
practices good midos, interacts sweetly with others and treats others with
Pirkei Avos teaches us to always give people a kindly and
pleasant countenance (chapter one) and to always receive people cheerfully (chapter
three). Get into the habit of treating everyone in a sweet and friendly manner always. Be
sociable and healthily involved in the life of your community. The Chafetz Chayim (Ahavas
Chesed) says that even if you can't give a beggar a penny, a warm, friendly, comforting or
encouraging response to the poor person can be a kindness, and, therefore, is a mitzva.
Greet neighbors on the street. Ask people, with sincere interest, how things are. Approach
them with compassion, helpfulness, humility, patience and responsibility. Generally, in
Jewish law, the closer someone is to you, the higher the priority to give of yourself and
be steadily good to them. Always be gentle, loving, kind and respectful; especially with
those of your own home. You'll start to see your attitudes - and relationships - improve.