This Shabbos we read Parshas Kedoshim. In the Parsha many important points of Jewish character refinement and behavior are taught to us. Among these points is the prohibition of taking revenge. “Lo Sikom Vlo Sitor es Bnai Amecha – Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge to your fellow Jew… Ani Hashem – I am Hashem” (Leviticus 19:18) This forbids us to reciprocate to others as they have done to us, regardless of how inconsiderate or outright disgusting their actions may have been. In addition, we are forbidden to bear a grudge against those who have wronged us. This forbids us from showing any sign of resentment to a person who did wrong to us. Even if we do a favor to someone who has wronged us, if we show any residue of bad feelings, or if we even show a lack of enthusiasm to them, we transgress this prohibition. Is this a simple thing to demand of all Jews? In the words of the Mesillas Yeshorim, - Path of the Just, “Not to bear a grudge or take revenge is behavior that is easy for angels; Not for humans, to whom revenge is the only thing that can often calm them; indeed it is often sweeter than honey”. Yet, the Torah demands this from every Jew, from the most learned to the most simple. How is it expected that every Jew to attain this level? How can we aspire to behave like an angel?
The commentaries explain that the key is in the words at the end of this verse - “Ani Hashem – I am Hashem”. When we fill our days with give and take in areas of business, in areas of dealings and interaction with others, we feel that the people we are involved with are the ones dealing us the blows or good things that we get. We fail to recognize that everything that happens to us is coming from Hashem; the people involved are simply His messengers. While they will be punished or rewarded for their role, anything that affects us is happening only because it was supposed to be. For example, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt because they were supposed to be enslaved there. The Egyptians had no right to do this to them and therefore, they are punished for their role in it. The poor man who got a $500 donation from someone was meant to be saved; the person who gave it to him will get rewarded for his role. This idea affects every single aspect of our relationships with people. When someone cuts me off on the road, instead of getting incensed with him and getting ready to blow up at him, I now realize that this is simply the way that it was meant to be. When someone refuses to do me a favor, I now recognize that this is what was supposed to happen. If we can really feel this, really bring Hashem into the mundane aspects of our everyday life, then we can find it so much easier to avoid the petty arguments that so easily ruin people’s live, ruin relationships, and ruin friendships. We can hopefully enjoy life, recognize just the good aspects of our friends, and build stronger and more meaningful relationships. These seemingly “small” commandments, not to bear a grudge and not to take revenge, can change our outlook on life and raise us to become more meaningful and productive people in all areas of life.