There are actually numerous segulot that not only have no risks, but are the ones that our greatest rabbis and sources have constantly urged us to utilize and practice. The book “Eiztot Lizakot B’din B’yamim Hanora’im” – Advice to Merit a Positive Judgment on the Days of Awe,” from Rav Chanoch Karrelenstein, discusses many of these exemplary practices that are virtually guaranteed to help us in so many different ways.
Chapter One – “Kol Hama’avir al midotav – Ma’avirin lo al kol p’sha’av”
“Kol HaMa’avir al Midotav – Ma’avirin lo al kol P’sha’av – All that overlook what happened to them – all of their own transgressions are [also] overlooked.” (Rosh Hashanah 17a).
Rashi explains that this person is not medakdeik limdod midah l’metza’arin oto – he is not particular to respond proportionally to someone who caused him pain.
Rabbeinu Chananeil wrote that one will have years added to their life because of this.
Based on the Selichot, we learn that through s’virat hamiddot (breaking or conquering our character traits) we will merit to rachamei Shamayim (mercy from Heaven). And one of the very greatest s’virat hamiddot would be not to respond even if someone degrades us. As it says in Gemara Shabbat 88b – One who is degraded but doesn’t degrade back, one who is insulted but doesn’t insult back, is viewed by the verse (Shoftim 5:31) as possessing incredible strength and power.
The Rambam points out in Hilchot Teshuva (7:3) that the obligation of teshuva (returning from negative behavior) certainly includes working on bad middot. This is very logical since tikun hamiddot (fixing one’s character traits) is the yesod and hakdamah (foundation and introduction) to the entire Torah (Rabeinu Yonah on Avot 3:17 and Sha’arei Kedusha from Rav Chaim Vital 1:2).
Ideally, one should not even be makpid (particular or resentful) in one’s heart, but rather accept this [degradation] with love, and forgive the other person with a full heart and a willing spirit. The Arizal said that if a person would know just how valuable this disgrace was for him, he would [actually] chase after these people in order for them to disparage him. This is [significantly] more beneficial for him than other types of afflictions or fasts.
Hashem establishes the world in the merit of those who hold themselves back in a time of conflict (based on Chulin 89a).
The Zohar (1:106b and 1:54a) wrote similarly that the world is only established in the merit of those who are ma’avir al midotav (overlook what happens to them). Furthermore, they will have a good life in the World to Come, merit to be saved from difficulties in this world, and Hashem will relate to them with middat harachamim (the trait of mercy).
To help us to conquer our middot and to restrain ourselves from conflict, we should simply try to think ahead. In a conflict, we generally have two different possibilities. If we lash out at the other person, it may initially feel good, but afterwards we will probably regret it. Or we can hold ourselves back, conquer our middot and anger, and keep quiet. While this will be extremely difficult to do initially; in the end, when we have overcome our anger, this will be very sweet. We will feel great that we controlled ourselves. [Therefore,] by looking ahead it will be much easier to hold ourselves back.
Another insight to help us overlook what happened to us is what the Sefer HaChinuch wrote in terms of the prohibitions of nakima and natira (not to take revenge or bear a grudge). The prohibitions against nakima and natira help us appreciate that whatever pain or difficulty people cause us, is actually coming to us from Heaven; these people were merely the agents carrying it out. What is happening, therefore, is really a function of our own actions and choices, not theirs.
What is the logic of ma’avir al midotav (overlooking what happened to us) resulting in ma’avirin lo al kol p’sha’av (all of our transgressions then being overlooked)?
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Rabbi Asher Resnick serves as a senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah’s Executive Learning Center, and is a senior training lecturer for Aish’s Rabbinical Ordination program. As a close student of Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, he developed a special expertise in addressing fundamental issues in Judaism, as well as in bringing classical texts to life. As a bereaved parent, Rabbi Resnick’s extensive writings on loss, suffering and trauma provide a sensitive Jewish perspective on coping with these fundamental life cycle issues. Olami & NLEResources.com is happy to highlight several essays over the coming months featured on his website JewishClarity.com.