Go With Rachamim

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Mikeitz

Yaakov looked at his sons with disdain, “You took Yosef, you took Shimon – now you want Binyomen too!  I just don’t trust you anymore!”

But time passed, the famine worsened and hunger set in. Yaakov agonized over what to do. He meditated on the cause of all the misery in his life. He finally figured it out. He decided to send them back to Egypt, but this time not empty handed. “If you are going to go - bring the man gifts, a little spice, a little honey, some pistachios and some almonds”. Yaakov then gave them some well thought out advice in the form of a blessing. This advice would turn the situation around. He said, “And may G-d give you compassion before the man…” He did not say may G-d have compassion on you, he said, “may G-d give you compassion”. Yaakov pinpointed the reason for all of the family troubles. His sons had behaved in a merciless fashion. Yaakov’s sons may have felt that they were legally correct in their treatment of Yosef but, at the same time, they weren’t merciful enough. Yaakov was a man of truth and justice. His sons were brought up with truth and justice. The whole family went by the book. But sometimes we can be so truthful that we leave no room for compassion. Yosef’s brothers needed to acquire the attribute of compassion. If they would have had more compassion – G-d would have had more compassion on them. So Yaakov blessed his sons, “May G-d give you compassion” Yaakov’s message struck home. G-d’s compassion went into action.

Yaakov’s sons knew well the truth of these words. As soon as their troubles began in Egypt they looked at each other and said, “This is our fault- Yosef pleaded with us to let him out of the pit and we ignored him, we were cold, we were Din – that’s why all these troubles have come upon us.”

Some people follow all the rules carefully. Who can criticize someone who follows all the rules? Yet in a way following the rules is the easy way, the path of least resistance. Following rules requires no deep thought or decision-making, no soul searching and no stretching beyond oneself. There are other people that never break a rule yet they have the ability to can go beyond the rules. Some people are Din – some people are Rachamim.

When the brothers sold Yosef down the river they may have been right. They may have gone by the book. Yaakov’s new charge to his sons was to get past the book. Expand into Rachamim!

The Talmud (B.M.) tells a story about the great Rabbah Bar Chana. He was moving house and hired some porters to move his belongings. As they were carrying the wine they dropped the barrel. It broke and all of the wine spilled. Rabba wanting compensation for his wine confiscated their coats. The workers went to Rav the Chief Rabbi to complain. Rav instructed Rabba to return their clothing. Rabba asked Rav, “Is this the din or is it a chumra?” Rav answered him that it is the Din, because the din is that you must be a decent human being. He gave them back their clothing. The workers who were poor then went back to Rav and complained that they lost a day’s wages. Rav instructed Rabba to pay them the day’s wages. Rabba asked Rav, “Is this the din or is it a chumra?” Rav answered him that it is the Din, because the din is that you must be a decent human being.

If we want Hashem to have Rachamim on our lives we have to interweave our sense of justice with a new sense of compassion. There is a little bit too much Din in our lives. We live in a very litigious society. We demand that people follow the rules. We rightfully demand what is coming to us. We are within our rights. But within that Din, within the rules and within the truth we have to make room for Rachamim. By doing so we can make Hashem go beyond what we deserve when He hands out our destiny.

There is too much Din in our homes. Even in our relationships with our family, our friends and with people we love. We have to go with Rachamim, with compassion.

Recently I became involved with helping a couple out with some marital problems they were having. I shared with them the following observation. If we are going to discuss who is right and who is wrong we will never get anywhere. The only chance any marriage has of flourishing is if both parties stop looking and practice overlooking. If both parties stop keeping track and if both parties remember to forget. When compassion is instituted in place of justice the entire atmosphere changes. This is true of our marriages, of our friendships and even when dealing with our employees. Yaakov ‘s charge rings loudly, “Have Rachmonus!” Stop thinking about what people deserve and start thinking about what would make them happy. Stop thinking about what we deserve and think more about others,

This will change our lives, because when we mix justice with compassion so does G-d. Who doesn’t need a little Rachmonus?

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