Holding one’s temper has its rewards

By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO — Before modern washing machines and driers were invented, washing laundry was a time-consuming activity; all the clothes had to be scrubbed by hand and then hung on the clothes line outside to dry. One day, a woman put out a temporary clothes line in the front of a shared courtyard, where she hung her clothes. A short time later, her upstairs neighbor came home and was annoyed at the lines that had been temporarily strung. Angrily, she cut them down, and the clean laundry fell onto the muddy ground.

When the first woman later went to take in her wash, she was dismayed to discover a disaster – all the clothes were dirty and would have to be rewashed. It was obvious to her what had happened. However, she said nothing; she took the muddy sheets back into her house and began the whole laborious washing process once again.

When her husband returned home, she made no mention of the afternoon’s aggravation. But late that night, there was a frantic knocking at their door. There stood the upstairs neighbor, in tears. Her child had a sudden high fever, and she was asking forgiveness for the laundry incident. The husband, who had answered the door, was surprised to hear about the event. His wife immediately and wholeheartedly forgave the woman and wished her child a full and speedy recovery.

This particular women had been childless for many years. The woman’s father, who lived in the apartment, was a great Torah scholar and Kabbalist. Upon hearing what happened, he said, “The fact that you didn’t respond to her and prevented this from becoming a fight will be the merit you need to be helped. Your deed will grant you a child who will be great.”

About a year later, this righteous woman gave birth to a son who grew up to be Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the foremost Torah scholars and halachic authorities of our time.  Our Sages teach us that overcoming one’s base desires to avenge an insult is a source of great merit.

[The foregoing story is documented in Torah Weekly published by Denver Kollel]

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Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego.  Your signed comment may be posted in the space provided below or sent to [email protected]

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