Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman, well-known speaker and Jewish educator, spoke about the 13 Midos of compassion. Hashem taught Moshe to recite these 13 midos when we need compassion from Hashem.
With the midah that states “rav chesed,” Hashem means that Hashem has an abundance of chesed. Rashi explains that Hashem shows tremendous kindness to those who need it and don’t deserve it. He leans towards the side of favor in His judgment. The sefer Tomer Devorah teaches that Hashem created this world with the Hebrew letter hei because there is a big opening on the bottom of the letter. If someone falls, he can come back through that little space in the bottom of the hei. He can’t go up the same way he came down. Once a person falls, he needs bigger fences.
Rav Matisyahu Salomon taught, on the sefer Tomer Devorah that in the place that a baal t’shuvah stands a complete tzadik cannot stand. The reason the baal t’shuvah is up there so high is because Hashem has compassion for a person who sinned. We must trust in Hashem eternally, because Hashem created the world with the letter hei, teaching us that a person can always do t’shuvah.
There is a midrash that Chavah didn’t want to be buried near Sarah Imeinu because she worried about the comparison. Rabbi Finkelman explained that Hashem does an abundance of chesed for the baal t’shuvah. He doesn’t want him to be uncomfortable, so Hashem keeps him close. We need to emulate that midah. We want to be close to Hashem. We need to have kavanah on this midah and ask Hashem to have compassion for us and to hold us close to Him. “That is what life is all about – clinging to Hashem. We have to emulate this.
When someone asks us for forgiveness, we have to emulate this trait of rav chesed and hold that person close. We should focus on it and understand it and commit to emulating it.
The next midah that Rabbi Finkelman spoke about was emes. Hashem is emes. He is faithful. He generously rewards those who do what He wants. There is a story about the Chofetz Chaim holding a gathering of roshei yeshivah at his home. They were in desperate need of funding for the upkeep of their yeshivos. They couldn’t figure out what to do, and the Chofetz Chaim was sad. Rav Shmuel Greinerman, who was there, was very troubled by the pain of the Chofetz Chaim. He made a decision to give away the merit of his mitzvah of t’filin so that Hashem would then grant the yeshivos the money they needed. He told the Chofetz Chaim his plan.
The Chofetz Chaim told him that Hashem will not accept this. He explained with the parable of a child who finds a one-million-ruble note and takes it to the candy store. The proprietor would not accept this huge note for a bag of candy. That would be very wrong. The Chofetz Chaim said, “Rav Shmuel, if you knew the value of putting on t’filin once in your life: It’s so much bigger than supporting the yeshivos. Hashem won’t accept this.”
Rabbi Finkelman taught that Hashem lets mitzvos fly up and he suppresses sins. Hashem wants to give us reward. Hashem is trusted. He will pay good reward for those who do His will. He looks at the positive and suppresses the bad. Emes is Olam HaBa even in this world. Sins are sheker (falsehood). We have to do t’shuvah and we have to focus on emes. He pointed out that Hashem guards chesed for 2,000 generations. In the first blessing in Sh’moneh Esrei, we mention the merit of the Avos. We mention them again in Tachanun and other prayers. Emes is so powerful. We ask Hashem to grant us extra compassion in the merit of our generations. Sins only remain for four generations, and that is only if the children repeat the sins of the fathers. Hashem “carries the sin” means that even if a person did a sin, Hashem forgives him for it. Rav Salomon taught that a sin creates a bad mal’ach and Hashem throws away this bad mal’ach.
We should all be written and sealed for a healthy, sweet new year! Thank you, Rabbi Finkelman, for your inspiring, uplifting shiur.
By Susie Garber