Friday, January 28, 2011

Being Mivater

My Bas Mitzva D’var Torah

Let’s say you walk into the dining room Friday night, to eat your meal. As you approach your normal seat, you notice someone sitting there. Who’s that someone?

Your most annoying, pesty little brother.

What do you do? Well, you have three choices.

Either you:

a. You shout “Get out of my seat! You have your own seat!” You run towards him, shove him off your chair causing him to cry, plop down in your seat, satisfied at what you just did.

b. You say “Please give me my seat.”

c. Quietly, without a word, you walk to a different chair, causing no problems.

What’s the difference between these three responses?

#A is getting really mad and totally going out of control and lousing your temper.

B, however, is different. There's nothing wrong with it. You have every right to ask for your seat back.

#C is what we call being mivater. You care more about other people’s feelings than about what you deserve.

It’s very hard to do #C, be mivater. You are thinking “What chutzpa does he have to sit in my seat!! You have to fight your Yetzeir Harah, hold back your anger, and quietly be mivater.

Why is it so important to be mivater?

We all know that after 7 years of working, Yaakov (Jacob) was able to marry Rochel Imeinu (Rachel). They were ready to get married. But did Yaakov marry Rochel? Oh, no! Tricky Uncle Lavan came along and gave Yaakov Rochel’s sister, Leah, to marry. He hid her face with a veil so Yaakov would not be able to see who it was. Yaakov and Rochel knew Lavan would do this, so they made secret signs so they would know if the kallah (bride) was really Rochel. But when it came time for the wedding, Rochel knew her sister would be so embarrassed if she didn’t know the signs, so she told them to Leah.

The midrash tells us that years later, when the Jewish People went into Gulus (exile), each of the Avos and Imohos (Forebears) pleaded to God to set their children free. But Hashem said “no” to each one.

First, Avraham came forward and said, “Please, in the merit of bringing my son up for a sacrifice, You should free my grandchildren,” but Hashem didn’t listen.

Then Yitchok (Isaac) came and said, “How about in the merit of my allowing myself to be a korban (sacrifice)? I asked my father to tie me up so that I would a kosher sacrifice for you!” but Hashem didn’t listen.

And so on, every Forefather and Foremother came forward to plead for the Bnei Yisroel (Jewish People) but Hashem didn’t listen.

Then Rochel Imeinu came to plead to Hashem. She told Him that even though she really wanted to marry Yaakov, she gave up her whole life to her sister just so that her sister wouldn’t be embarrassed. Then Hashem said: “Because of what you did, in your zechus (merit), I will bring the Bnei Yisroel back to me.”

We therefore learn from Rochel the importance of being mivater.

But the story needs an explanation.

Why is being mivater any better than Avraham Avinu and Sara Imeinu’s Hachanasas Orchim (hosting guests in their home)? Or Avraham giving up his only precious son to Hashem? Or Yitzchak Avinu giving up his life to be a sacrifice to Hashem? Or Yaakov learning so many years of Torah? After all, we learn that Talmud Torah Kineged Koolam - learning Torah is compared to everything! Surely Hashem should have agreed to take Bnai Yisroel out of exile in Yaakov’s zechus (merit).

I think that there are 2 ways to be mivater.

Lets say 5 year old Shprintzter Shloigenboigen wants his mother to give him a dollar for a soda, and Shprintzy who is a year older also wants one. Their mother only has one dollar in cash on her and so finally, after much arguing, Shprintzy is mivater and lets her younger brother have the dollar for soda. Shprintzy wanted the dollar. She didn’t deserve it. And she gave in. That’s the easy way to be mivater.

The second way to be mivater is like this.

Let’s imagine Rochel Imeinu’s chasunah (wedding). She had been engaged for 7 years. It wasn’t only that Leah was taking her chosson, she was taking her chasuna too! It was her invitations, her guests, her music, her banquet. She’s been planning this for 7 years already and she didn’t even get to get married - instead, she let Leah get married. And she did all this just so that her sister would not be embarrassed in front of everyone.

That’s the hard way to be mivater - when you totally deserve something, yet you let someone else have it anyway. This gives us a clue why Hashem only listened to Rochel’s pleas. All the other Avos and Imohos did what was right, but Rochel did beyond right.

If we really want Hashem to listen to our tefillos (prayers), we should concentrate less on what we deserve, and more on what other people need.

- Goldy Seinfeld

Shabbat Shalom

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