Halacha for Wednesday 25 Nissan 5781 April 7 2021

Loving and Seeking Peace

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 1, Mishnah 12) states: “Hillel says: Be a student of Aharon who was a lover of peace and a seeker of peace who loved Hashem’s creations and brought them closer to Torah.”

Our Sages explain the outstanding character of Aharon Ha’Kohen: When two people fought, Aharon would go sit next to one of them and say, “I saw your friend crying his heart out and saying, ‘Oh, how I wish I would not have said that about my friend. I am so ashamed that I sinned against him. How will I ever look him in the eye again?” Aharon would sit there and talk to him until all of the jealousy and anger would leave his heart. Afterwards, Aharon would go and sit next to the other individual and speak to him the same way he spoke to the first and remove any lingering hurt and anger from him. Several days later when the two met up, they would hug, kiss, and make peace. Aharon would implement the same technique when making peace between man and wife. It is for this reason that when Aharon passed away, the verse states, “The entire Jewish nation cried for him for thirty days,” which included the women of the Jewish nation. There were thousands of Jewish children named “Aharon” in honor of Aharon Ha’Kohen, for if not for his intervention, this child would not have been born since its parents would have still been separated.

We must all deduce from here the importance of making peace between man and his friend and man and his wife. Likewise, one who causes strife between man and wife by speaking ill of one spouse in front of the other causes Hashem to become truly angry and this is terrible sin. Our Sages (Baba Metzia 58a) list the categories of people who descend to Gehinnom but never come out: One who commits adultery, one who publicly shames one’s friend, one who swears falsely in the name of Hashem, one who derives personal honor from the shame of another, and one who causes strife between a man and his wife.”

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that nowadays, thankfully, many unaffiliated Jews have returned to the fold of Torah and Mitzvot observance, however, there are those that do so radically and because of their lack of Torah knowledge, they observe stringencies (many of which are not even rooted in Halacha) which cause a lack of harmony in the home. This is certainly not what the Torah has in mind. It is for this reason that we pray in the Amida, “Return us, our father, to your Torah. Bring us closer to your service and help us repent completely before you.” This means that only through Torah study can one repent fully and only with proper Halacha learning can one live a life of peace and harmony.

An incident once occurred where a man came to divorce his wife following the holiday of Pesach in the Bet Din of Hagaon Harav Avraham Yehoshua of Apta. The rabbi asked the fellow, “What has your wife done that you wish to divorce her?” He replied, “She fed me steeped Matzah on Pesach (which some are stringent and abstain from eating on Pesach) contrary to my family’s custom.” The rabbi called for his wife, the Rabbanit, to enter the Bet Din. When she did, he asked her, “Tell me the truth. Which Matzot did you place in front of me on the Seder night?” The Rabbanit was silent because she was afraid to answer. The rabbi told her, “Do not worry, just be honest.” The Rabbanit answered, “I placed regular, non-Shmura Matzot before you. What happened was that I placed the Shmura Matzot that were baked for the Mitzvah on Erev Pesach in the closet, wrapped in a cloth. As I was busy preparing for the Seder, a poor man came to the door and said that he had no Shmura Matzah for the Seder and one of the members of the household who did not know that these Matzot were specially baked for the rabbi took them and gave them to the poor man. When I came to take the Matzot out of the closet, I was astounded to find that they were missing. I did not know what to do and because I was afraid to tell the rabbi what happened, I took regular Matzot and placed them in the cloth and I pretended not to know anything about what happened. The rabbi then proceeded to lead the Seder and used regular, non-Shmura Matzah.”

The rabbi then turned to the man who wished to divorce his wife and told him, “You see, my son. I ate regular Matzah on the night of the Seder and I pretended not to be able to tell the difference so that I do not become angry and in order to preserve peace in the home. Now you come and wish to divorce your wife over steeped Matzah, a stringency which is not required by Halacha at all?” The rabbi then proceeded to mediate between them and he succeeded in making peace and sent them back home happily.

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