Halacha for Tuesday 11 Iyar 5780 May 5 2020

When Your Enemy Falls, Do Not Rejoice- How Maran zt”l Related to One of His Adversaries

Our Sages taught (Avot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 19): “Shmuel the Small says: When your enemy falls do not rejoice and when he trips, let not your heart delight; lest Hashem see and this will be bad in his eyes and he will remove his anger from upon him.”

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Anaf Etz Avot, page 300) that many great luminaries of the Jewish nation did not see to it to retaliate against those who did not treat them properly. On the contrary, they would reciprocate with good.

The Gemara (Yevamot 63a) states that Rabbi Chiya (uncle of Rav) had a very difficult wife who would cause him much angst and nevertheless, every time he went out to the market and saw a nice piece of jewelry, he would purchase it for her as he held deep appreciation for the good things she did.

When Maran zt”l was still young and began disseminating his halachic rulings, there were several Iraqi Jews, including some Torah scholars, who rose up against him and opposed his teachings because he would sometimes disagree with the rulings of the saintly Rabbeinu Yosef Haim, venerated sage of all Babylonian Jews.

One of Maran’s adversaries was a Torah scholar and Mekubal who studied in the “Ohel Rachel” synagogue in Jerusalem and he continued to oppose Maran zt”l vehemently. This Torah scholar was the director of the Sephardic Orphanage of Jerusalem, which was historically under the jurisdiction of the Rishon Le’Zion and Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel. Originally, this man was under the authority of the Rishonim Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel followed by Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Nissim. This Torah scholar would fill out reports every so often and have them approved by the Chief Rabbi.

In the year 5733 (1973), Maran zt”l was elected to the post of Rishon Le’Zion and Chief Rabbi of Israel. This individual was sure that Maran zt”l would seek retribution against him and most certainly terminate him. As some time passed, this man noticed that Maran zt”l  did nothing of the sort. As more time went on, this man found out that Maran zt”l had signed and approved certain applications necessary for him to remain in his post. Maran likewise signed any and all reports that were necessary in the course of his employment. This man realized in hindsight that Maran zt”l’s actions were all directed for the sake of Heaven and that he was the epitome of fear of G-d and that wayward people had embittered his life for naught. He realized that he had mistaken and was truly remorseful and he made up his mind to beg Maran for forgiveness for all he had put him through.

One day, Maran zt”l was walking on Amos Street in the holy city of Jerusalem along with his son, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Shlit”a. Suddenly, this Torah scholar confronted them and asked to speak to Maran about something. Maran zt”l just ignored him and continued walking. Nevertheless, this individual was very firm in his convictions and he stood right in front of Maran and blocked his way. Maran zt”l stopped and stood their silently. This man then exclaimed, “Rabbi, forgive me!” Maran zt”l replied, “Do you really think it is so easy for me to forgive you?” This person kept on imploring Maran and told him that he did not mean any harm and other such things. Maran zt”l replied, “I forgive you. However, know that while you and the others wasted so much time fighting against me, I learned and learned and wrote.”

There are so many more stories of this nature regarding Maran zt”l that will, G-d-willing, be published soon in the epic biography of the life and times of Maran zt”l, Abir Ha’Ro’im, Volume 3 (in Hebrew).

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