Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Revenge Means Refusing to Perform a Kindness Because of Past Behavior

Please sit down before you read this.  No, really; I am still reeling from this realization that I heard in a shiur from R' Simcha Feuerman, shlita.

The Torah forbids both נקמה/taking revenge and נטירה/holding a grudge.  These are among the mostly clearly and unequivocally stated prohibitions in the Torah, Vayikra 19:18:
לֹא-תִקֹּם וְלֹא-תִטֹּר אֶת-בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ, וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָDon't take revenge, don't hold a grudge; you shall love your friend as yourself.
Pretty darn clear, no?  No searching for hidden meanings, no tricky context.  Just straight up, "don't do that".  Chazal do define the terms for us, of course, with examples.  Reuvein comes to borrow a hammer from his friend, Shimon, who refuses.  No good reason; just refuses.  The next week Shimon comes to borrow Reuvein's screwdriver.  If Reuvein refuses because Shimon didn't lend his hammer, then Reuvein has transgressed the prohibition of taking revenge.  If Reuvein demures, but as he is handing the screwdriver to Shimon, he notes, "See?  I am not like you; I am happy to help a friend", then Reuvein has transgressed the prohibition of holding a grudge.

Most of the discussion about these prohibitions revolve around how hard it is to not hold a grudge, what you can do to remove ill feelings, etc, etc.  All true.  R' Feuerman, though, said we should look a little more carefully at the example Chazal give for נקמה/vengeance.  Reuvein didn't attack Shimon; not physically, not monetarily.  Reuvein did nothing more then refuse to do a simple act of kindness for Shimon, simply because of Shimon's past behaviour.

The simple meaning of נקמה/vengeance, is nothing more than withholding kindness.  Reuvein leaves for work one morning and sees the neighborhood cats have knocked over the garbage can.  Reuvein looks down and thinks, "You know, she didn't even make my coffee this morning; why should I help her out by picking up the garbage?  Maybe she'll think twice about the way she treats me now."  Besides the obvious fact that no man should ever let his wife deal with the garbage, he just transgressed the איסור דאורייתא/Torah prohibition of לֹא תִקֹּם/don't take revenge.

He would have been better off with ham sandwich. Then he would just need to make up with HaShem.  Now he needs to make up with his wife and also HaShem.  No amount of t'shuva, fasting, prayer -- not even Yom Kippur -- can do anything for him until he apologizes to and appeases his wife.  He didn't, chas v'shalom, hit her.  He didn't take anything (physically) away from her.  He just withheld a simple act of kindness.  I would not want to be in his shoes; in fact, I keep trying to get those horrid things off.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…