Although there are many aveiros causing our galus to drag on so long, the main reason, says the Chofetz Chaim, is the aveirah of lashon hara and sinas chinam. Over the past twenty years, shemiras halashon has greatly improved; however, sinas chinam remains a big problem. If we could only rid ourselves of sinas chinam, the Geulah would come.
Relating to our fellow Yidden with ahavas chinam will not only bring the final Geulah, but will also give us a happier and higher quality life in the here and now.
One People, One Heart
Hashem gave us the Torah only when we became united k’ish echad b’lev echad. Why? Because no Yid can fulfill the entire Torah alone. As one entity, we share thezechus of everyone’s mitzvos and share responsibility for their aveiros.
When we realize that every Yid is a part of us, we will not be able to hate him or not forgive him. We will not talk lashon hora about him, or violate any of the othermitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro. After all – he is a part of me! Does anyone hate himself or hold a grudge against himself?
We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors....but they all exist very nicely in the same box.Forgive and Be Forgiven
If we love, forgive, don’t hold a grudge, Hashem will treat us the same way, middah k’neged middah. The story is told of Rav Abba, who saw a man sleeping under a tree and a snake slithering up to bite him. Before the snake reached the man, a branch fell from the tree and killed it. Rav Abba asked the man in what zechus he was saved from death. The man replied, “I never had a k’peidah on anyone who offended me, and even if I could not forgive him immediately, I did not go to sleep before forgiving him.”
How does this middah k’neged middah work? When a person hurts someone and the victim feels upset and cannot forgive him, he “forces” Hashem to punish the offender, because Hashem does not want people to feel hurt. Conversely, if the victim forgives, he prevents the wrongdoer from being punished. Consequently, the next time he himself deserves punishment, Hashem pays him back in kind and spares him his punishment.
Recently, the deceased father of a person in Bnei Brak came to him in a dream and warned him that he was being summoned to Beis Din shel Ma’alah. When the dream repeated itself, he went to ask a gadol for guidance. “Try and think back if you have a k’peidah in your heart against someone,” he was advised. After some thought, he remembered that years ago, his rebbe in cheder had punished him unjustifiably and he remained feeling very hurt. With great effort, he tracked down the now elderly rebbe, who lay in the hospital, at death’s door. The rebbe remembered the incident, and was gratified to hear the talmid fervently express his fullmechilah. Amazingly, the rebbe took a turn for the better and recovered, and the talmid who forgave him was spared as well – two lives saved in the zechus of forgiveness.
How to React?
So what can we do when someone causes us pain? The first thing is to remember that the offender is no more than a shaliach; it is Hashem who sent us the test. No one can do anything to us without Hashem wanting us to have this nisayon. If we pass the nisayon, if we do not retaliate or bear a grudge, but rather continue to be nice to the one who hurt us, we become better people and are rewarded by Hashem forgiving all our sins.
The Good Life
Fostering forgiveness and ahavas chinam is not only the key to our Olam Haba; it is also the secret to a beautiful Olam Hazeh. If we rid ourselves of our petty accounts with others and love them as an integral part of ourselves, we will feel light and unburdened. No more is our mood darkened by nagging suspicion of other people’s motives and by indignance at favors unreturned. We judge others favorably and see their positive side, just as we focus on our own virtues, closing an eye to our flaws. Even when we experience a blow, we identify it as a loving “slap on the back” from Hashem, rather than a personal affront from the one who gave it. With time, we find that life is much more pleasant and rosy – and it all flows from ahavas chinam.
Reacting to Wrongdoing
This ahavas chinam is also expressed when we encounter someone who does not meet our “standards” in tzni’us or other areas of avodas Hashem. Remember, he too is a part of me. We should feel compassion towards him, not anger or hate. Say to yourself, “He could not overcome his yetzer hara. There is so much tumah in the world today, he couldn’t help himself.” Daven for him. Be dan l’chaf zechus. Love his neshamah.
Rabbi Benzion Bruk asks why are we commanded only one mitzvah to care about a fellow Jew’s ruchniyus – the mitzvah of tochachah, and are commanded so many mitzvos to see to his gashmiyus needs? He answers that we are only too quick to berate fellow Jews for their spiritual failings; we do not need any more mitzvos for that. But as to lending them a hand to meet their material needs…
Creating a Dor Shekulo Zakay
Chazal say that Mashiach will come only in a generation that is kulo chayav or kulo zakai. How can we, in our times, become kulo zakai? If we make an effort to judge every person l’chaf zechus and define him as a zakay, Hashem in turn will judge all of Klal Yisrael accordingly, and we will become a dor shekulo zakai.
For a concise synopsis of this three-step system, call 845-352-3505x116. The sheet you receive should be read once a day. It will help you internalize the ideas and live by them. You will become a happier person, you will not suffer any pain, and above all, you will help bring the Geulah and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash. The Chofetz Chaim says (Shmiras Halashon, part 2, ch. 7) that every person who corrects the sin of sinas chinam and lashon hara has a share in building the Beis Hamikdash, which will descend to our world all built.
We are once again approaching the three weeks, when we mourn the churban Beis Hamikdash. May the zechus of our joint efforts to create a dor shekulo zakai turn the three weeks into yemei simchah and may we be zocheh to the Geulah Sheleimah!