The concept of Teshuva is absolutely remarkable in that bad deeds can actually be forgiven and then erased. Over and beyond this Chessed, loving kindness from Hashem, is an added dimension of forgiveness for one who is “Ma’avir Al Midosav”, known also as a vatran, one who ‘overlooks’ slights, insults and humiliation. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 17a tells us that for such a person, one who `overlooks’ that which would ordinarily bring forth an angry or harsh reaction, Hashem forgives all of his aveiros.
Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler zt’l, as quoted in Sefer Sifsei Chaim (HaRav Chaim Friedlander zt’l) explains that there is Din (strict judgment), and there is Rachamim (mercy not restricted to the usual rules of strict judgment). To qualify as one who has done Teshuva on his misdeeds, there is a certain formula to follow to achieve atonement. If one accomplishes this, then Al Pi Din (according to strict judgment), he has accomplished Teshuva and is `entitled’ to be forgiven. However, there is a person who can achieve forgiveness even without going through the normal procedure. One who is Ma’avir Al Midosov, as a reward, or consequence for not following the normal `Din’ type reaction to an insult but instead acts humbly and mercifully and doesn’t react as one normally would, merits receiving the same treatment from Hashem. Even though he didn’t technically satisfy the requirements of a proper Teshuva, he gets a free pass, if you will, because of his being Ma’avir Al Midosov.
This is an incredibly challenging attribute to aspire to, and clearly, most of us have difficulty achieving it. If so, why even mention it? The answer is, it’s important, very important, to know what there is to strive for, even if we only achieve partial success. In raising our children we need to ask ourselves – are we modeling and teaching being easy going and forgiving, or do we tend more to the side of entitlement and standing up for our rights. If we stop and analyze ourselves and our own behavior and values, we would find justification for either approach. Rav Dessler (in a simplified version of his explanation) demonstrates that Shammai and Hillel, the great Tannaim, represented the two opposing viewpoints of this very question. Shammai clearly felt that the honor of the Torah was so great it required the Din approach, while Hillel followed the Rachamim approach. Neither side was technically more right than the other.
At the end of the day however, the one with more `clout’ in heaven was Hillel, because of the Rachamim approach. That’s because Hashem was swayed, so to speak, to also deal with Hillel with Rachamim and not Din. Before we conclude which way we want our children to go, it behooves us to keep this in mind. A person who can be forgiving, easygoing and pleasant to deal with, is a person who has a lot going for him, and can anticipate a life blessed with benevolence and favor from Above. As we pour out our hearts to Hashem this Yom Kippur, let’s keep this in mind in our yearning for a year of Bracha and Hatzlacha for ourselves, our children and for all of Klal Yisroel .
With Best Wishes for a G’mar Chasima Tova,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann