Shviras Hamidos and its reward

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    I see that telling stories has become a springboard for discussion in these rooms. The following story is one of the most inspiring I’ve heard and teaches many lessons in

    breaking one’s Middos and in the greatness of the human spirit.

    If my memory serves me well, this story is recorded in the introduction of one of the sefarim of the Sdei Chemed.

    There was a bochur named Chaim Chizkiya who learned in a certain Sefardic yeshiva. He was refined, dilegent and well-liked, though not of the brightest students. To compensate for this lack, he would come earlier to the Bais Medrash and leave later than everyone else to review the material. He would pour out his heart in prayer, asking Hashem to open his mind so that he could plumb the depths of torah and grasp its wisdom.

    There was another student in the yeshiva whom we’ll call Shimon. Shimon was of the most brilliant students in the class, but didnt expend nearly as much effort as Chaim Chizkiya. He was fiercly jealous of Chaim Chizkiya’s popularity and felt that it was undeserved.

    These thoughts gave him no rest until he devised a sly plan. He knew that Chaim Chizkiya was the first one to arrive each morning, followed only by the cleaning woman. He offered her a bribe to create a scandal. He told her that the next morning when she came , she was to wait several minutes, then run out agian, screaming through the streets that the bochur had attacked and assaulted her. That way, he felt sure that he would be expelled from the Yeshiva in shame.

    She agreed to the plan and carried it out in all its drama. The townspeople were horrified and they spoke of nothing else for several days. Meanwhile, the Rosh Yeshiva felt that things were not as they appeared to be, and instead of expelling Chaim Chizkiya, rather fired the cleaning woman. Shimon’s scheme had succeeded in that Chaim Chizkiya’s reputation was tarnished.

    Meanwhile, the cleaning woman was out of a job and the small amount of money Shimon had given her was long used up. She regretted what she’d done and decided to come clean in hopes of getting back her job, which she had enjoyed for many years.

    She secretly met with Chaim Chizkiya and tearfully confessed to the whole conspiracy that Shimon had set her up to. She promised to publicly reveal the source of the ugly plot to clear his name if he interced on her behalf to reinstate her in her job.

    At first, he was relieved at the chance to vindicate himself and prove his innocence. But then, he thought to himself what a huge chillul Hashem it was when the incident first happened, and how much derogatory talk was created as a result. With time the scandal had finally died down. He knew that were the truth come to light now, it would dredge up the whole story again and who knew how much Chillul Hashem and Loshon Hara would result? So, though it was very hard for him he decided to swallow this as well, instead of causing the disgrace of Toarh scholars.

    After some soul-searching and deliberations, he told her that he will help her get her job back on condition that she never reveal the plot. And that is what he did. It is recorded that the rival, “Shimon” suddenly passed away two weeks later.

    The protagonist in this story eventually went on to become a great Torah scholar, Rabbi Chaim Chizkiya Medini, author of the monumental work, “Sdei Chemed”. He relates that it was at that monent, when he made his difficult decision not to agree to the woman’s plan, that an amazing thing happened. He felt his mind open up to understanding the wellsprings of torah in a depth and clarity that was unavailable to him until that point, eventually reaching the heights of one of the greatest Torah scholars of that generation.

    We learn many lessons from this story, among them that one who remains silent in the face of insults merits great reward. May we all gain chizuk from such a story.

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