Friday, October 3, 2008

Acquiring Favorable Judgment - For Shabbos Shuva

Acquiring a Favorable Judgment on Yom HaDin
By Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
(Reprinted from the booklet with permission by the author.)

The Chofetz Chaim writes (Chovas Hashmira, Ch. 6 in f.n.) that we say in Avinu Malkeinu, “Se’som piyos mas’tineinu u’mekatregeinu”– seal the mouths of our adversaries and accusers. This can be accomplished by working on the mida of exercising restraint (ma’avir al midosov) and sealing our own mouths from causing unnecessary quarrels. By doing this, Hashem will then reciprocate – mida keneged mida – and seal the mouths of the prosecuting malachim.

Chazal write “Hama’avir al midosov, ma’avirim lo al kol p’sha’av – one who does not react negatively to another who has distressed him will have his aveiros overlooked (by bais din shel ma’ala – Rosh Hashona 17a, Rashi ad loc). This doesn’t mean that his aveiros are pardoned, but that the bais din will temporarily disregard them during the judgment. This is comparable to our judiciary system, in which a judge can postpone the trial, temporarily suspend the judgment or dismiss the case until a future date at his discretion. Bais Din Shel Ma’ala’s discretion is based on how much a person restrained himself when being hurt or wronged by another. (“Malchusa d’ara ke’ain malchusa de’rakia”– the earthly kingdom, referring to the judiciary system, is similar to the heavenly one (Brachos 58a).

During our numerous daily interactions with our family, neighbors, friends, shopkeepers, clerks, etc., we are sometimes irritated by:

• another person sharply criticizing or embarrassing us
• a child soiling our clothing
• our spouse not being on time or not doing an errand or task that we requested
• a careless passer-by inadvertently bumping into us or stepping on our shoes
• a family member disturbing our sleep
• a neighbor being late to return a borrowed item or returning it slightly damaged.

Even though the other person may be at fault, nevertheless, if one exercises restraint from getting angry and excited, i.e., he is ma’avir al midosov, then the Bais Din Shel Ma’ala will likewise refrain from examining his aveiros.
Chazal relate (Ibid.) that when Rav Huna took ill, he was visited by Rav Papa, who found him in a near death state (goses) and ordered tachrichim (shrouds) to be made. Rav Huna surprisingly recovered and told Rav Papa that even though it was decreed in heaven that he should die, nevertheless, it was revoked because he was a person who was ma’avir al midosov. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz comments that this mida has the power to change even a death sentence that was already passed on a person!( Sichos Mussar- Shaarei Chaim #100, p. 422 )

The following story, told by Rav Yitzchok Zilberstien, illustrates this.
For months, Yanki had been preparing to read his bar mitzvah parsha. However, when his family came to shul on the Shabbos morning of his bar mitzva, they were surprised to see that there was another bar mitzva boy with his family who also prepared to read the parsha. It seems that the gabbai mistakenly scheduled two bar mitzvahs for the same Shabbos. Realizing that it was an impossibility to relocate one of the bar mitzvahs to another shul, the gabbai tried to negotiate with the families to see if one would be willing to forego their son’s Torah reading. However, both families adamantly refused to concede. Finally, Yanki’s parents consented that the other boy should read the Torah, and the davening proceeded.
A few years later, Yanki’s mother was rushed to the hospital on erev Shabbos with unusual chest pains accompanied by her family to stay with her over Shabbos. In the emergency room she was diagnosed with a complex heart condition that required complicated surgery. After hearing the diagnosis, the shocked family sought some advice as to how to proceed. Suddenly, in the middle of their discussion, an old rabbi was admitted to the emergency room, accompanied by a group of people. A few minutes later, the family found out that the rabbi was none other than the world-renowned posek, Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashav. The rav was rushed to the hospital because he was also experiencing chest pains and, although the pains were diagnosed as nothing serious, the doctors preferred that he remain over Shabbos for observation.

When Yanki learned that Rav Eliyashav was to remain in the hospital over Shabbos, he realized that he found the perfect person to advise him about his mother. The only obstacle that remained was how to approach the Rav, who was surrounded by his family to ensure that he get as much rest as possible.

A brainstorm suddenly entered his mind. He went over to one of the family members and told him that if they need a baal korei, he was ready to read the sidra for them. He explained that this was the Shabbos of his bar mitzva, and that he still remembers the sidra quite well. The family immediately agreed, and Yanki reasoned that once he would be in the Rav’s minyan, he could quickly ask the shaila about his mother.

Following the davening, Rav Eliyashav went over to personally thank Yanki for the excellent job that he did reading the sidra. Yanki then seized the golden opportunity to ask about his mother. The Rav listened intently and advised him to proceed with the surgery, and added his blessings for a complete recovery.

The following week, Yanki’s mother had the operation and eventually made a complete recovery from her ailment.

Rav Zilberstien comments that it was no coincidence that Yanki’s mother “happened” to be hospitalized on the same Shabbos as Rav Eliyashav, that it also happened to occur on Yanki’s bar mitzvah parsha, and as a result, Yanki was able to get Rav Eliyashav’s advice and blessings, which eventually saved his mother’s life. Hashem was sending them a clear message: Because Yanki’s family was mevater (conceded) at his bar mitzvah, exercising the mida of maavir al midosav, Hashem was also maavir al midosav and gave his mother a new lease on life.

A similar story is told of a dispute that took place on the night of Rosh Hashana. Avraham was sitting in shul waiting for maariv to start, when Shimon tapped him on his shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but I believe that you’re sitting in my place.” When Avraham reached in his pocket and pulled out a card showing that he purchased the place that he was sitting, Shimon also showed him a card with the identical place printed on it. They both went to the gabbai to verify whose place it really was. When he took out the seating plan, the gabbai realized that he made a mistake of selling the same place to both people.

At first, the gabbai tried to negotiate by requesting that either Avraham or Shimon should relocate to another place. However, each of them refused to change, claiming that they had chosen that particular place because it was centrally located. The gabbai managed to find an alternate place, which was vacated that evening by someone who was davening elsewhere for maariv, and then told the two men that he hoped to find a better solution by the morning. Shimon was happy with the temporary arrangement, changed his seat, and the davening proceeded.

That night, Avraham had a dream in which he found himself on a desolate road. Not knowing what to do, he started walking down the road, when he saw a big black truck with a driver dressed in black heading in his direction. He stopped the truck and asked the driver if he could hitch a ride with him. The driver replied, “This truck is carrying your aveiros. I’m sure that you don’t want to go on it.” Puzzled, Avraham agreed and continued walking. Shortly afterwards, he saw another black truck passing by and motioned for it to stop. When the driver, who was also dressed in black, asked him what he wanted, Avraham replied, “A ride to the nearest town.” The driver likewise told him that this was a truck of his aveiros and proceeded without Avraham. The same incident repeated itself a few times, and Avraham was beginning to get a bit nervous about what was going on. Then, another vehicle approached, and this time it was a person dressed in white driving a small white motorcycle with a small box on the back. When Avraham asked the driver who he was and where he was going, the driver replied, “I’m taking all your mitzvos to the Bais Din. Would you like a ride?” Avraham now became more nervous and agreed to hop on the back seat.

They arrived in front of a large building with a sign “Beis Din Shel Ma’ala” written on it. Avraham saw the truck drivers unloading the boxes of aveiros from the trucks. When he entered the building, he saw the court angels putting the boxes of aveiros on one side of a huge balance scale. One box was labeled with the aveiros of "lashon hara," other boxes were labeled with "not properly concentrating when davening or saying brachos, eating food without a proper hechsher," etc. When the angels finished loading the scale, the aveira side was heavily weighed down to the floor. Avraham stood stupefied as realized that he was now being judged by the Beis Din Shel Ma’ala for the forthcoming year.
When the heavenly judge called for the mitzvos to enter the courtroom, the driver of the scooter entered carrying the small box of mitzvos and placed it on the other side of the scale. However, it was like a feather trying to tip a scale of boulders, and it seemed apparent that Avraham had no chance to receive a zakai verdict for the forthcoming year. The judge then announced “Is there anyone who could find any more mitzvos or merits?” There was silence as no more mitzvos were to be found to outweigh the aveiros. However, before the judgment was about to be passed, a final announcement was made as a last resort to try and get a zakai verdict. “Was Avraham ever ma’avir al midosov? And if he was, we will be able to overlook his aveiros and let him live another year.” Suddenly, Avraham started screaming “give him my seat, give him my seat!” At that point he awoke and found himself lying on his bed in a cold sweat. He then realized that his life was dependant on his seat, and when he came to shul for Shacharis, he went immediately over to the gabbai and told him, “Give Shimon my seat!”

-Dixie Yid

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1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

I actually printed this up before Shabbos, read it over Shabbos, and then on Sunday had an opportunity to put it into action. Thanks.