Harboring a Grudge


By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The concept of not doing “nekama” and “netira” (taking revenge or harboring a grudge) is seen clearly in the Torah. The classic example of this would be if Reuven asks Shimon to lend him a hammer and Shimon refuses. When Shimon asks Reuven the next day if he can borrow an ax and Reuven says that he is not lending it because Shimon   didn’t lend him a hammer the day before, he is committing an act of  “nekama.” “Netira” would be if Reuven does lend the ax but says, “I am not like you who did not lend me the hammer.” Both of the above scenarios are forbidden.

The Gemara in Yumadaf chof gimel, amud alef limits these “lavin” to money issues i.e. lending things and the like, but when it comes to “tzaar de’guf” (personal insults etc.) it would not be included in the lav. It is considered a “Middas Chassidus” to forgive in these instances; one would be classified as “Hanelavim ve’einan Olvim,” those who get embarrassed, but do not embarrass others. 

The Smag and the Meiri pasken that if one insults you, it is permissible to hold a grudge and even take revenge. The Rambam in Hilchos Deos, Perek Zayin, halacha zayin does not mention the difference in the Gemara in Yuma whether the insult was regarding money or personal insults. It would seem from the Rambam that one would be oveir a lav of nekama or netira even when it is only personal.

The question arises that there is another Rambam in Chovel Umazik, Perek Heh, halacha yud that says that one who was injured or insulted by another is not allowed to be an “achzar,” (malicious person) but must forgive the person if the other person asks for forgiveness. Why is there no lav of netira? The Rambam holds that the lav is on personal matters too.

One thing is certain; if a person is owed money, he is not required to forgive the other. The lender must take the borrower to Bais Din to collect the money he lent. This is based on the Ramban in Chumash, Perek Tud Tes, posuk yud ches.

The two Rambams mentioned above seem to be contradictory. This may be explained by understanding the differentiation between two types of grudges. The first type of grudge is when a person consumed by it and hates the other person for it, and given the opportunity, will act against him. This scenario, according to the Rambam, is “netira” and is forbidden in the Torah. The second type of grudge is where a person has a minor complaint against another; there is no hate, just a small grudge for he was wronged. In this case, there would be no “netira” and halachically one would be able to carry the grudge up to the point where the other person asks for forgiveness. At that point one should not be an “achzar” and to forgive right away.

Let us hope with Yom Tov of Rosh Hashana approaching we all forgive each other and Hashem will cease to hold a grudge against us for our sins and may we merit the final redemption bekarov. 

Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to hymanbsdhevens@gmail.com or Berachsteinfeldscorner@gmail.com




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