19 Tamuz 5779 / Monday, July 22, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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The Peacemaker    

The Peacemaker

The peacemaker forgives, forgets, and doesn't feel pain in his heart when he encounters someone who hurt him in some way. Why?


In the previous article, we've completed Level Seven and now we continue with Level Eight
Ten Exemplary Levels from Total Anger to Total Tranquility
Level One: Overt Anger and Violent Revenge
Level Two: Silent Anger and Emotional Revenge
Level Three: Incessant Overt Anger, But No Revenge
Level Four: Calm in Public, Angry at Home
Level Five: Trying to Do Better
Level Six-Seven - No More Outward Manifestations of Anger
* * *
Level Eight: The Peacemaker
The peacemaker forgives, forgets, and doesn't feel pain in his heart when he encounters someone who hurt him in some way. Why? The peacemaker of tranquility Level Eight knows that everything comes from God. If God sends him pain or insult, he knows that it's for his own benefit. Therefore, Level Eight people never have a negative focus on their fellow man. The Talmud teaches, "If a person calls you a donkey, put a saddle on your back." In other words, concede the point rather than arguing. Tell the belligerent person that he or she is right, and you'll disarm them and preserve the peace. The Almighty especially loves peacemakers.
Let me tell you a story about a classic Level-eight individual, Old Isaac's neighbor and best friend:
Jerry Miller
Isaac's friend and neighbor, Jerry Miller, owns the stable and the horse farm down the road from the inn.
Once, a chauffer-driven cream-colored Bentley pulled up in front of the stable. Out came a couple dressed in formal English riding gear, from breeches to switch and all the trimmings.
Jerry came to greet the English couple, dressed in his blue overalls and smelling like week-old horse manure, since he'd just finished changing the bedding in the stables. The visitors winced, turned up their noses, and said in a Lancaster house-of-lords tone, "We'd like to rent a pair of thoroughbreds."
Jerry responded with his usual smile, "No problem, I have just the two horses you want." In a few minutes, Jerry returned, leading a handsome pair of saddled thoroughbreds.
The visiting nobleman reacted with an abhorred look on his face. "Are you daft? Don't you know that equestrians use English saddles? What are those western monstrosities? Haven't you the sense of a mule?"
Despite the cruel slander, Jerry only smiled. He unbuckled the western saddle from one of the horses, put it on his own back, got down on all fours, and declared happily: "Sir, not only do I have the sense of a mule, I can ride you on my back, too. If you'd prefer to rent a mule, I'm at your service. I beg your pardon, though - if you do prefer an English saddle, I'll prepare one for you right away."
Jerry completely melted the icy snobbishness of the aristocratic couple. He changed the saddles, and they had the ride of their lives. Despite their opposite backgrounds and personalities, Jerry and the English couple became the best of friends.
* * *
Level Eight people resemble their Creator, insofar as they spread peace wherever they go. Their humility makes them beautiful people. Not only are Level-eights at peace with their fellow human, they're at peace with themselves.
The inner strength of a Level Eight peacemaker is apparent: Insult him, and he'll acknowledge that you're right. You can't argue with such a person - you can only love him.
Making peace means connecting two opposites. Therefore, don't be upset if your fellow man's opinions are the opposite of yours. Don't say you can't make peace with such a person. On the contrary, genuine peace is achieved by connecting two opposites. God creates humans by connecting two opposites - the body and the spirit. -- Rebbe Nachman of Breslev
Level Nine: Repays Cruelty with Kindness
When Dovid HaMelech (King David) said, "The meek shall inherit the earth" (Tehillim 37:11), he was referring to Level Nines. Meek does not mean weak - it means inner strength and peace. For our purposes, meek is synonymous with modest; shying away from publicity and not seeking to harm others even when they harm us.
I'd like to share a story with you, about one of my former classmates at rabbinical seminary.
Steven Sternhartz[1]
Steven had a master's degree in finance from Harvard. For his own spiritual growth, he decided to devote a few years to the study of theology in Israel. I don't like to generalize, but oftentimes, people who deal in money and finances are very closely tied to the material world at the expense of their spiritual lives. Steven is an exception. Today, he's a successful banker. You'd be hard pressed to find a more ethical and upright banker than Steven Sternhartz.
Steven's parents lived in Boston. During winter semester break, he'd fly home to visit his parents, and spend a few days skiing in Vermont. One day, while on the ski slopes, Steven lost his wallet with all his money and his return ticket to Boston.
With no other choice, he asked the ski shop owner, Mr. Beadle, for a short-term loan. Beadle refused. Penniless and hungry, Steven hitchhiked home in a snow blizzard from Vermont to Boston.
After our graduation and ordination, I became the rabbi and spiritual counselor of a prison and Steven returned to the world of finance.
In the meanwhile, Mr. Beadle sold the lift, shop, and slope franchise, and moved to Washington, D.C. There, he opened a souvenir shop near the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Two years later, he ran into financial difficulties. He urgently needed a loan to beef up his inventory and to stimulate his cash flow. He phoned for an appointment with the loan officer of the First National Bank of Washington.
You guessed right - the bronze nametag on the loan officer's desk was none other that Steven Sternhartz. Mr. Beadle made no mental connection between the skier with the Harvard sweatshirt from several years ago and the loan officer in the herringbone Botany 500 suit on the opposite side of the desk. Steven on the other hand, recognized Beadle on sight. 
Beadle barely met the bank's criteria for the requested loan. Steven could have easily done business by the book; he had justifiable reason to refuse Beadle's request. Instead, he went out on a limb and approved the application. Never, did Steven tell him, "Hey, I'm the guy who lost his wallet on the slopes, and whom you refused to lend the money for a ticket home." To this day, Beadle has no idea who the kind loan officer of First National was.
Level Nine individuals perform good deeds with no ulterior motives, no publicizing, and no drum rolls. No matter how badly a person mistreats a Level-niner, Level-nine individuals wouldn't dream of reciprocating with anything other than compassion and loving-kindness. Their only wish is to emulate Divine behavior.
Sharon, Steven's wife, says that being married to him is like living in Heaven. Level Nines don't criticize others, no matter what. Steven thanks his wife profusely for each tiny favor, yet demands no thanks for everything he does. Steven, like all other Level Nine's, is a giver. Level Nine is already a full-fledged level of inner peace.
To be continued…
(The Trail to Tranquility - Lazer's newest book!  Now available directly from the publisher:
* * *
[1] Names, circumstances, and locations are slightly altered to protect privacy and to prevent embarrassment.   

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