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Or Yahal: Vayeishev

The 22nd of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shalom Mordechai Schwadron, Yerushalmi maggid (1913-1997), brother-in-law of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. He was named for his grandfather, the Maharsham, the leading posek in Galicia before World War I.

He lost his father at age seven, and for a time lived in an orphanage. After his bar mitzvah he studied in the Lomzer Yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, and later in the Chevron Yeshiva in Yerushalayim under Rav Yehuda Leib Chasman.

After his marriage, he continued his studies in Kollel Ohel Torah. The kollel’s members included Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rav Shmuel Wosner. In addition to his renown as a maggid, he published approximately 25 of his grandfather’s works, as well as Lev Eliyahu (of Rav Elya Lopian), and the writings of Rav Chasman, Ohr Yahal.

The Talmud (Shabbat 10b) teaches that the two extra dollars that Jacob paid for Joseph’s coat led to jealousy, hatred, Joseph being sold, and the entire family going into exile in Egypt. Two dollars!

We find that Halacha takes even such insignificant sums very seriously. If two people appear before Beit Din, and one is dressed in obviously better quality clothes than the other litigant, we send him home to change because, “Stay away from something false!” The slight difference in clothing may make an impression on even the most honest of judges. (Shavuot 31b)

The power of just a speck of a negative feeling is enough to send all of Israel into exile. We cannot ignore what we consider “just slight jealousy or hatred.” The just slight can expand and destroy the person and all around him.

If this is true of a negative feeling, how much more so it is true of a positive feeling. We tend to ignore positive experiences, believing that they are insignificant. But they are even more powerful than the “insignificant” negative feelings. We must catch them, pay attention to them and fan those sparks into flames of passion for God and Torah. (Or Yahal Vayeishev- The Power of Midot)

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