Ethics

For the week ending 13 December 2008 / 16 Kislev 5769

Domestic Peace

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: A couple that lives near me are constantly quarreling. Some neighbors have tried to make peace between them but have been told not to mix in. Is there any point in persisting in our efforts despite their refusal to cooperate? What is the right thing to do?

Answer: In his commentary on the mishna that lists the mitzvot which bring a person reward in this world and the next, the Teferet Yisrael calls attention to an apparent redundancy. Gemilat chassadim — acts of kindness — is near the top of the list, and near the end is bringing peace between man and wife. It would seem that achieving such peace is an act of kindness and has already been included in gemilat chassadim.

His resolution is that gemilat chassadim applies to a situation in which the receiver is happy to receive the kindness. Bringing peace, however, is something that must be done even if both of the quarrelling parties refuse to accept your efforts. He adds that for this reason the phrasing is "bringing peace" and not "making peace" — to indicate that one must go to all lengths to bring peace between man and wife.

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