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23 Shvat 5778 - February 8, 2018 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Awful Power of a Grudge

by Kobi Levy

"Abba, I don't feel comfortable about reminding you, but seventeen years ago, I found a wallet with important papers and money. We located the owner and I brought him to you to claim his loss. He was an outstanding avreich whom we knew. He opened up the wallet, examined its contents, and claimed that it was missing two hundred shekel. You suspected me of taking it, as did the owner, who fixed me with a menacing look. Eyes tearing, my heart breaking, I declared that I had not touched the money. I don't know if you believed me or not, but Abba, the lack of faith in me, on your side, and on the side of the owner of the wallet, who left our home with a sour expression, barely saying `thank you,' has pursued me for seventeen years. And to this day, I still feel that you suspect me of having taken the money. And whenever I occasionally encounter that avreich, I shy away and try to hide from him."


"Who was that young man?" Menachem, the young chosson of the three.

"It is unnecessary to mention his name. It is pure loshon hora," Menasheh murmured.

"Loshon hora?" Menachem exclaimed. "Your son Yaakov bears a grudge against him. And you know how resentment does not fare well to either side."

Yaakov is already 27, but not married.

Menasheh and Yaakov refused to divulge the name. Why? Because...

After bircas hamozone they went outside, silent, to daven ma'ariv of Motzei Shabbos.


Sunday. A phone call to me (Kobi Levy).

"Shalom. My name is Menachem and I am the son-in-law of Menasheh and brother-in-law of Yaakov. The story of Yaakov, the bachelor, continues to disturb me. The fast of Asora BeTeves fell that week and I felt very weak but dragged myself to the neighborhood kollel. I wanted to open up a sefer to calm me down. An avreich whom I know stood in the doorway and asked for tzedaka for his chavrusa who was deeply in debt and very hard pressed for money.

"I know all the members of the kollel and asked whom he was referring with an intention to be of help. 'It's Yitzchok,' he said. `He has been divorced for the past ten years, saddled with great debts and demands upon him, and cannot think of getting remarried. He is down to his last crust.'

"I took out a one hundred shekel bill and handed it to him. I then called up my brother-in-law and asked him, "Tell me, is the man in question, by any chance, Yitzchok?"

"Yes," he answered. "Who told you?"

"Divine Providence," I replied.

I went over to Yitzchok who was in a corner, by his shtender, and asked him to speak to my brother-in-law so as to finally put an end to a saga of grudge-bearing which had just come to light in the family.

He hesitated at first, then asked me to sit down.

I sat down next to him and heard the devastating story of his life, first of seven years of a miserable marriage and then the ensuing ten years of being divorced with suffering no less than before.

"He confided in me, saying, `It all began in my first year of marriage. I was very alarmed when I discovered the loss of my wallet and searched for it everywhere. It had contained one thousand shekel and important papers. When Menasheh told me that his young son had found it, I sighed in relief and went there immediately. I examined the contents of the wallet and found only eight hundred shekels inside. I was convinced that the boy had taken the missing two hundred. Think of my situation at the time: a young avreich paying a high rent, trying to survive, and finding myself with two hundred shekels less. I was very angry at Yaakov and to this day, I still believe that he was guilty.'

"I felt faint. Here is a man full of suffering and still bearing a grudge against a boy, who now, as an adult, seventeen years later, still claims innocence. I spoke to him at length, begging him to consider making up with the young man and forgiving him for having suspected him falsely of theft. I called up Yaakov and organized a meeting between them.

"Their meeting was, to my joy, a pleasant one, and they even shared some jokes, and ended off on a congenial tone of good wishes for good news in the near future.

"Now note this. This happened on 10 Teves. On Tu BeShevat 5777, Yaakov, twenty-seven at the time, went out with a girl three years younger. This time, contrary to his past disappointments, he returned beaming like the sun at midday, feeling that he had found his aveidah. This is, after all, the way of the world, that a young man goes seeking after his other half and, with the help of Heaven, finds it!

"They finalized their third meeting with a vort and the rest is history. My dear brother-in-law bought an apartment in a southern town and there is no one happier than he.

"The truth is that since his marriage, I never had an opportunity to meet up with Yitzchok since we live in different neighborhoods. But today, just a few hours ago, upon returning from the kollel, I checked my mailbox and found a wedding invitation inside. It was accompanied by a small note which read, `Dear Menachem, I have no words with which to thank you for your blessed initiative of making peace between me and your brother-in-law. What a pity that I was so stubborn and stupid not to put an immediate end to my suspicions upon that very occasion. My life would have been so much better had I done so. I really believed then that he had taken the money and felt angry at him. I bore a grudge against him and he against me, which did neither of us any good, but I suffered the most. I will be very happy to see you at my wedding.

"Mr. Levy, Yitzchok's wedding was Tu BeShevat 5778, and my brother-in-law met his wife for the first time on Tu BeShevat 5777. Is it not clear that there is a connection?

"But the cycle was completely closed only a few minutes ago. I got another call from Yitzchok, who is only a few days before his second wedding. But get this: "Menachem, you have to hear what happened this week. I went to a wedding of a family member. I sat down at a table, and to my right was Aron. Who is Aron? The owner of a grocery story where I used to shop sometimes. Aron started to talk about how all his clients pay their debts. He always collects. He remembers each of his customers and what happened with them. `I will never let any of my customers stand before the Heavenly Court and have to explain how they did not pay me what they owe. Everyone pays!'

"And then he looked at me meaningfully and finished his story. `R' Yitzchok, I even had a small incident with you 16 or 17 years ago. You moved out of the neighborhood and left a small debt of NIS 200. I did not see you for three months. Then one day at 9:30 in the morning I spotted you going into the shul. Hello Yitzchok. You have a small debit in the grocery store. How much? 200. You are lucky that I found you. And then you opened up your wallet and paid me with two hundred shekel notes. Remember?'

"Mr. Levy, this is what Itzik tells me about what happened that morning, when 10-year-old Yaakov later found his wallet with only NIS 800 in it. The ways of Heaven are mysterious."


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