Confessions II: V’hirshanu
We have treated the righteous as being evil. For example, saying, “He’s no tzaddik! And he claims to be a Rabbi?” Or, assuming the worst of other’s motivation: “Ah, he does this and so-and-so? He couldn’t possibly have a reason!” How often does someone say something to us innocently to us and we bite their head off for it?
There’s that famous story about a guy living in a shtetl in Europe. He borrows $100 from his next door neighbor. It’s in the middle of the night, and the guy’s worrying how’s he going to tell him that he can’t pay him back right now.
“He’s gonna scream at me,” he thinks to himself, “that I’m a thief!”
“After all that I’ve done for you? Well, I’m just going to tell everyone in this village what a dirty rotten rat you are!”
“He’s gonna punch me in the face, and I won’t let him!”
So the man marches over to his neighbor’s farm and knocks on his door. The
neighbor opens up, and the man punches him in the nose, and yells, “You think you can punch me?”
When we do this, we find reasons to speak Lashon Hara about someone else. When we speak Lashon Hara we accept that the target of the gossip is a bad person. This is Heirshanu. Do you ever feel that it is impossible to change? “This one avera, whoo! I don’t know if I can ever get over that one!” “I’m not gonna waste my effort on it.” Ever feel that way? We have turned ourselves into bad people!