Monday, January 30, 2012

310 - Vaeira

"Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon and commanded them regarding Bnei Yisroel" (Shemos 6, 13). Rashi explains thatHashem was commanding them to lead the Jewish People with calmness and tolerance (savlanus). The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 7, 3) adds that Hashem told them "My children are stubborn and frustrating, and you are accepting this position with the knowledge that they might curse you and throw stones at you." Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 220) comments that one who does not have the ability to act patiently and with tolerance toward those around him cannot be a leader nor should he hold any public position for that matter. Without patience one cannot succeed in any communal position, such as a Rabbi, teacher, manager or Gabbai.

While this is certainly true regarding one who is involved with the public, it is also an essential middah in each and every person's day to day life. The Alter of Kelm writes, "We should make great efforts to become accustomed to acting with tolerance, for it is the root of all middos and serenity (Chochma U'mussar pg. 432). No two people have identical characteristics, upbringing, habits, pastimes and idiosyncrasies. Therefore, if one wishes to get along with his spouse, friends, colleagues, neighbors, roommates or learning partners, he must be tolerant of their actions and words.

What is savlanus? The root of the word is sovel - to carry [a heavy load]. One who is tolerant of others is similar to a porter who hauls a heavy load and carries on despite the burden. Likewise, every day we hear and see numerous things that we do not agree with or that rub us the wrong way. Moreover, many times others act in a way that is insulting or even downright nasty. Yet, in all these instances, a savlan acts with tolerance. He bears the burden of their actions or words and remains undaunted.

A note of clarification must be made: Savlanus is notindifference! It is not a feeling of, "Who cares what he does. Let him live his life and don't get me involved." Rather, tolerance is acting with level-headedness in all situations. When some acts in an offensive matter, instead of going into a mad frenzy, a savlan retains his composure and responds calmly. He rebukes and reprimands and he refuses improper demands, but with love and serenity and without anger.

Tolerance is a part of the middah of humility that everyone must make an effort to master. Rav Wolbe suggests that we allot fifteen minutes a day to acting with tolerance. Understandably this slot must be allotted to a time when we come in contact with other people (e.g. lunch). During these fifteen minutes, we should make an effort to bear whatever the people around us do or say, without acting rashly. This does not necessarily mean that we should remain silent for the fifteen minutes. Rather, we should remain cool and collected, and any response should emanate from these feelings.

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