Rav Brazil On the Parsha: “If You Love Everyone, Then You Love No One”

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rav-shmuel-brazil-1By Rav Shmuel Brazil

The passuk says that the reward for Pinchus’s mesiras nefesh was that he was given the bris of shalom. Let us examine for a moment what was the midah keneged midah in this reward for his action of killing Zimri and Kazbi.

The gemarah in Berachos 57b brings pessukim to support the concept that the nature of four dreams promise a tiding of peace: they are dreams of קדרה באר צפור נהר a pot, well, bird, and a river. Let us suggest that the acronym of these four spell out the word קבצן which symbolizes a person who is stingy and withholding. This message suggests that although the middah of shalom is so important that even the last beracha of shemoneh esrai ends with shalom, and that Hashem is willing to erase His name in the Sotah water in order to bring about shalom, nevertheless, shalom is not to be used indiscriminately. Sometimes one has to be a stingy and withholding individual not to make shalom. For the sake of peace we do not sit with conservative and reform rabbis and have a theological forum together. This is but one example where we must take a stand and not sit and discuss peacefully with those who deny the validity of the Torah and the Rabbanan. Our Chazal say that Moshe Rabbeinu attempted to appease Korach so he should not be deemed a rebel and schlep with him followers for the same illegitimate cause. However, as soon as he realized that Korach was not interested in the emes, Moshe walked away. One is not allowed to make peace with the reshaeem. [Yeshaya 48,22] אין שלום אמר ה’ לרשעים .

I vividly remember the Purim seudah in Shor Yoshuv about 27 years ago when in the middle of the festivities a former hippie who was then a little inebriated stood up and called to the rebbi ztl, “I love everyone! I love everyone.” As he was echoing his statement of love he was lifting his two fingers of both hands in the air in the form of a “v” which was then culturally accepted as the symbol of love. The Rebbi then answered back with the deep yesod of life and the fundamental basis of reaching sheliamus in one’s tikkun hamidos, “If you love everyone, then you love no one.”

Every middah has to have its stinginess in order for one to attain perfection in that particular middah. Our Chazal says that anyone who has rachmanus on a achzor [cruel person] then the end result is that he himself will become cruel. A middah that is carte blanche without discrimination will not come to its completion. A hint to this is that the gematriah of the word קבצן is one before the word גמר which means to finish. Only when one can prove his middah by also withholding it, then it can come to its completion. Even a maaseh chesed such as hashavas avaidah requires discrimination. There is a very severe punishment in Torah for one who returns a lost object to a goy only because he’s a goodie goodie and that is what his fine middos dictates him to do [Sanhedrin 76]

No, it is not true as “they” want us to believe that all men are created equal. It is also not true that all Yidden are created equal since there are kohanim leviim and yisraelim. Not all days are created equal and not all lands are equal either. Even all of Yeushalayim and for that fact even the Beis Hamikdash itself is not all created equal. If one does not have the “discriminating taste” as the ad goes, then you are a loser. Lehavdil, one must possess a discriminating look when it comes to Torah and avodas Hashem.

This same concept we find at the akiadah in which Hashem tells Avraham now I know that you fear me. The question the mefarshim ask is that Avraham is called ohavee [Yeshaya 41,8] the one who loves me? They answer that in truth Avraham was known for the middah of loving Hashem which is manifested in the middah of chesed. However, the only barometer of the shelaimus of a middah is the willingness to do the opposite even though it goes against one’s grain. For the only reason one would be very willing to be very uncomfortable doing so is solely because by this way he would be fulfilling Hashem’s desire. Avraham’s readiness to kill his son which is an act totally polarized and opposite of his middah, clearly demonstrated his true deep love for Hashem For by demonstrating he willingness to kill his son he was stating that the love of Hashem that he showed in the past is a love and chesed that he developed in his character through tough challenges and tests and not that he was just born with it. For being born with a middah and not having the ability to do the opposite of that middah, shows that you are a natural baal chesed not a developed one.

The Ishbitzer Rebbi zt”l compared life to a person in a canoe with one oar and he must get to the other side of the lake. If he utilizes the oar on one side of the boat only then he will just be moving in circles. He must switch the rowing from right to left many times and only then will he reach the other shore. Right symbolizes chesed in contrast to left which symbolizes din. To be successful as an ovaid Hashem one must have both middos of chesed and din, using the middah and then sometimes withholding it. Of course to utilize both middos correctly it takes a cheshbon hanefesh to clarify within oneself that he is not using excuses. However, not to use both will only leave a void in the shelaimus of that particular middah.

Another striking example of this idea was a recurring line that Rav Freifeld zt”l would say that there are people who work on the middah of emes until they acquire it and then there are those people who are acquired by the middah of emes. For in many instances the middah of emes warrants not to say the emes. Those who are “acquired by” the emes will full knowingly hurt other people’s feeling with condescending remarks under the banner of Nu! What can I do I am an eesh emes. In ‘truth” such non discriminating conduct unknowingly far removes them from the sheliamus of emes.

Being a pacifist is gevaldig. Shalom is a great middah to acquire. However, only the Yid who has the middah of shalom yet when necessary he fiercely fights for kavod shamayim and chillul Hashem, is the true pacifist. Pinchus demonstrated with his zealousness that he truly deserves the bris of shalom. Shalom’s shelaimus is when one knows when not to make shalom as well. The Baal Haturim brings that the vov of the letter shalom is split. Our explanation to this is that sometimes the breaking of shalom is the greatest shalom we do not negotiate with terrorists even of the spiritual kind.

P.S. After I finished typing this Torah I started thinking that you just might be thinking that I am writing an editorial condoning all of these recent Shabbos demonstrations as an outcry of the opening of public parking lots on Shabbos. Just to set the record straight this was not my intention at all. On these matters one has to consult with Daas Torah. However I would like to make a comment. A gadol once admonished a heimeshe activist concerning his heavy kanaoos on many inyanim whereupon he replied How can you condemn my behavior when the Torah extols the reward Pinchus that he received for his kanaoos. The gadol took out a chumash and pointed to the passuk that says that Pinchus took a spear in his hand. How can I condone your behavior when you walk around the whole day with the spear already in your hand?{Matzav.com Newscenter}

6 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent dvar torah, thank you.
    Existing peacefully with those who have a different agenda is far from loving..

  2. Reb Shmuel we will surely miss the Rebbi. We wish the Rebbi much Hatzlocho in opening the new Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. Sh’or Yoshuv will never be the same without the Rebbi!

  3. Reb Shmuel Brazil hits the nail on the head

    the last paragraph states:

    P.S. After I finished typing this Torah I started thinking that you just might be thinking that I am writing an editorial condoning all of these recent Shabbos demonstrations as an outcry of the opening of public parking lots on Shabbos. Just to set the record straight this was not my intention at all. On these matters one has to consult with Daas Torah. However I would like to make a comment. A gadol once admonished a heimeshe activist concerning his heavy kanaoos on many inyanim whereupon he replied How can you condemn my behavior when the Torah extols the reward Pinchus that he received for his kanaoos. The gadol took out a chumash and pointed to the passuk that says that Pinchus took a spear in his hand. How can I condone your behavior when you walk around the whole day with the spear already in your hand?

  4. Sorry, I do not understand why you might think I might think you were condoning the recent Shabbos demonstrations. Your article does not give that impression at all. The Shabbos demonstrations are a needlessly violent reaction. Who could possibly condone them?

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