Thursday, September 2, 2010

Turning an Opponent

Rav Mordechai Shraga of Ossatin, zt”l, the ben zekunim of the illustrious Rav Yisrael of Ruzhin, zt”l, became rebbe at the tender age of twenty. His father had left the world four years before he was invited to come to Ossatin and did so, establishing a beis midrash with numerous chassidim. A certain older man in the town objected vociferously to the young rebbe’s appointment and made this known to his supporters as often as he could.
Once, when Rav Mordechai Shraga was passing on the road, he noticed this man arguing with one of his chassidim about his own suitability as a leader. Since the rebbe had not heard their discussion he called the chassid aside later and asked him to tell what they were arguing about. The chassid was afraid to divulge the subject since he did not want to insult his own rebbe, but when Rav Mordechai Shraga promised him that he would not take offense the chassid repeated the entire conversation.
To the chassid’s surprise, the very next day the rebbe made a very optimistic declaration about his implacable enemy. “His objections are surely diminished.” The next day the rebbe said that his opponent had relented even more and the following day the rebbe indicated that his attitude had improved yet again. This continued until the rebbe declared that this man felt no opposition to him whatever.
This chassid was astounded at what appeared to him to be an open miracle but the rebbe denied that there was anything supernatural about it. “The verse states, 'כמים פנים אל פנים'—‘Like faces are reflected in water.’ I realized that he hated me so much only because he had never met me. He could only maintain such hatred if he did not see me and feel that I really had nothing against him at all. When he saw me the first day and discerned that I had no complaint about him this calmed him a little. The next day I showed him that I felt a great deal of love for him and this assuaged him even more. Every day I made sure to meet him and focus on my love for him until he entirely abandoned his prior opposition!”

1 comment:

aron@israel said...

we can learn from this story to treat our enemy (ooponent with respect and then we will get respect back. but this case is very special. sometimes we treat our opponents (enemies) with respect but we get just more hatred back.