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Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim| 5767

P'ninat Mishpat

 With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur before us, let us take a change of pace. We will reflect on the root cause of monetary conflict and, apparently, conflict in general, as we see it from our experiences. As our readers may remember, Eretz Hemdah founded a beit din called Mishpat Vahalacha B’Yisrael a little over a year ago. As a court whose jurisdiction is based on the laws of arbitration, the litigants who come before us are those who are willing and often interested in having their conflict resolved according to the Torah. Consistently, the litigants are fine, upstanding people.
 What causes fine people to come before beit din with accusations and counter recriminations against their fellow Jew? In almost all cases, the root behind the conflict in the first place and its escalation into one that the sides cannot resolve themselves is a lack of communication. It starts with two people who trust each other (why shouldn’t they?) and who have straightforward business dealings. They do not see a need to raise “what if?” situations because they think the necessary approach will be obvious to honest, normal people. The problem is that each person, with his different orientation and the psychologically insurmountable obstacle of being an interested party, ends up seeing things differently when problems arise.
 At that point, the over reliance on one’s counterpart’s integrity quickly turns into a feeling of betrayal of trust and a resulting exaggerated lack of belief in the other’s integrity. “If he doesn’t see it my way, he must have been tricking me all along, and I will not give in. It’s a waste of time to explain to him calmly my position, which anyone should see by himself. There is no point in trying to understand his position, which does not have legs to stand on.” The truth usually is that both positions have some validity and neither has obvious outright merit.
 We bring up these observations now, not only to prepare people for a possibile din Torah or even to train them to avoid it. Rather, many monetary and nonmonetary conflicts, within the family and among friends, colleagues and neighbors, have the same dynamics. Communication problems, both before and after feelings are hurt, cause different perspectives to become the roots of serious acrimony. The greater the expectations that were not met, the stronger the negative reaction to the disappointment and perceived betrayal. By being aware of the causes of conflict and its escalation, people may be able to avoid them in the first place, put them in their proper dimensions at the next stage, or resolve the conflicts in an amicable manner, when necessary. May such a spirit of cooperation between us create the unity that will encourage Hashem to grant us a season of selicha, mechila, and kaparah, ushering in a year of beracha and hatzalacha.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z"l.
                                      May their memory be a blessing!
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