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Author:  James
E-mail:  not available
Date:  8/14/2003 2:19:00 PM
Subject:  Inner Circle
Message:  I learned that if another person gets punished because of us then we aren't allowed into the inner circle in the afterlife.
Does this mean i must forgive anyone after they rob me?
If someone for no good reason calls me names, does that mean i should forgive him?
Is it possible to forgive someone conditionally?

Reply:  This is not something that can be learned on one foot. The Gemara has hundreds of stories that show when to forgive and when not to. The best place to go through it is probably in Orchot Tzaddikim or a similar Mussar Sefer. To get up one morning and start smiling when someone wrongs you, will possibly lead you to end up in a mental institution. But the ultimate goal is to be able to realize that whatever happens to you, and whoever harms you, is really carrying out the wishes of God. He uses bad people to carry out his punishments, and good messengers for good things. We are like the dog, that when someone throws a stick at him, he would bark at the stick, not realizing that you are the one who threw it. No-one can harm anyone without God deciding that it must be done. King David said about Shim'ie Ben Geira, when he cursed him, that "Hashem told him to curse me." (Shmuel 2:16) When someone robs you of $20, Hashem decreed that you should lose the $20. What difference does it make if Joe Ganeff takes it or if it falls into the toilet & gets flushed down by mistake. You wouldn't be angry at the toilet, so why are you upset at Joe Ganeff. On the other hand, if someone is disrespectful or not listening to our God, we have no right to forgive them. We should be upset at them. In our lack of understanding, we befriend God's worst enemies, yet we get angry at the messenger who insulted us or hurt us. It isn't an easy mindset to have, but that clear, controlled, and logical outlook is the one we must strive to properly attain. Just to verbalize it and not internalizing it, is pure dishonesty. It takes years, if not a lifetime to achieve this type of clarity and control of one's emotions and Midot. The place to start is the Mussar Seforim. Orchot Tzaddikim, Mesilat Yesharim, Emunah & Bitachon by the Chazon Ish, Chovot Halvavot, Shevet Mussar, Rambam Hilchot Deot & Hilchot Teshuva, Rambam Shemona Perakim, Shaarei Teshuva, Even Shelema of the GR"A, and much more. Each person has his Sefer that charges his batteries. There is no need to read them all, but rather to find that one or two or ten that speak to you. Over the years of working on one's self, it will slowly but surely become easier to see the logic and emotions of our great leaders of the past, like Moshe Rabeinu, King David, Hillel, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasie, and almost all of the ones we learn about, who on one hand were seemingly so passive toward people who came against them, and at other times were right back in their faces, stronger than anything you can imagine. If we try to make believe that we are at that level when we are not, we will just be repressing our anger, to later come back as depression or worse. Start the process by just calming yourself when something is done to you. Remind youself that this idiot is not worth you getting yourself worked up. Then over time, when you work on the Seforim and you understand the concepts, you will begin to get upset less often at the person, but rather realize that he has worse problems than you, and maybe even pity him. This is what we are here to work on. We were given this body and soul combo-unit, with the strangest of contradictory motivations, AKA the Yetzer Harah & the Yetzer Hatov. Our life's work is to constantly progress to a point where the soul run's the show and the body becomes a silent partner. This process brings completion to us, which is the purpose of this world, and in essence it is also the reward. If you have ever seen a real Talmid Chacham near the end of his life, you can see the finished product. I used to bring my wife and children to follow Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ourbach from the shul to his house. You didn't need to be anything or know anything. You looked at him and you saw the peace, you saw the finished product, you felt the humility that he developed, you knew that this man became something special. Was he always that way? I'm sure that he wasn't. People often like to say wonderous stories about boy-geniuses who at 3 years old were giving lectures to the 80 year old senior Talmidei Chachamim. I'm sure there were people with extraordinary talents and capabilities, but that is not us. Those are special people that Hashem gives us as a special present to enhance our lives, our learning, and our religion. The subconcious mind tells us these tales of wonders to justify our own inactivity. To say, "only they can do this, because they were given special gifts." Wrong! Don't listen to that. We are all here for one purpose, and that is to work on ourselves, to better our selves, as close to becoming whole & complete as we can possibly get. Of course, each person has his/her package and will be judged accordingly. One person can accomplish a tenth of a second person's accomplishments, but be rewarded 1000 times more, because person A came a long way, but for Person B it was easy to do what he did, and he never went any further. This is the purpose of our life, go get 'em!

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