May 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A number of years ago at a rabbinic conference, a seasoned rabbi was asked to share one of his most important pieces of advice to the younger rabbis present. He said that every night when he came home, he waited in his car for five minutes in the driveway before exiting and entering his house. Asked as to his reasoning, he responded that like many people, he occasionally experienced considerable amount of stress at work. Sitting in an idle car gave him an opportunity to collect his thoughts, let out some steam and breathe before seeing his family. His concern was that without this daily ritual, he would be too sensitive and reactive at home.

Many of us tend to come home on edge as a result of the stress and tension that often comes in the workplace. Without awareness of our emotional state, we may end up seeing our spouse’s interaction as nagging, annoying or intruding. A simple question, suggestion or comment from a family member may result in an argument that could have and should have been avoided. We may later question our behavior and wonder why we acted the way we did. There is nothing wrong with suggesting in a respectful way that one is not in a positive state of mind, and needs some time for themselves. When we become reactive, our response has the ability to spiral into a confrontation that we most probably will later regret. Then there are other situations, when we find ourselves in a relatively simple disagreement with someone, that suddenly seems to escalate into a larger conflict. Often, the source of such escalation is our apprehension at facing the nature of the dispute in a fair and honest way as immediately as possible. When Avraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds were in conflict, Avraham attempted to mediate by reminding Lot of their familial connection. When the Torah describes the argument, it uses the word “reev.” However, when Avraham describes the argument, he terms it as a “merivah.” The Shelah Hakadosh explains that by looking at the grammatical difference between these words, we can glean a powerful insight. “Reev” is zachar, masculine, while “merivah” is feminine. Only the female species has the ability to produce fruit. Avraham’s message to Lot was that what appears to be a simple argument between them, a “reev,” can quickly bear fruit and escalate into a major “merivah” if the matter is not addressed in an expedient fashion. This is an important lesson for life. When we are engaged in conflict for whatever reason, the longer we allow the conflict to drag on, the more intense it may become. When something is bothering us about someone else, it is best to engage with that person in a timely fashion so that the matter can be resolved before the potential conflict takes on a life of its own. May we strive to seek peace even in the face of some very challenging moments.

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

 Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ, and is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected].

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles