It’s Not That Important by Avi Levinson


In Bereshit 6:11, the Torah records the great sin of the Dor Hamabul.  It says, “Vatishacheitt Haaretz Lifnei Haelokim, Vatimalei Haaretz Chamas,” “The land became corrupt before Hashem, and the land became filled with robbery.”  The Talmud Yerushalmi (Bava Metzia 4:12) quotes a Beraita which asks, “What did they steal?”  The Beraita answers that they stole less than a Shaveh Perutah, the minimum amount that is given Halachic significance, so no one could take them to court and prosecute them for robbery.  The question that this brings up is obvious: what was so wrong with what they did, if they were stealing in such petty amounts?  An answer lies in the Gemara in Eiruvin 62, which says that a Nochri is Chayav even for stealing less then a Shaveh Perutah, even though a Jew is not.  Why is a Nochri Chayav when a Jew is Patur?  Rashi answers that a Jew will forgive someone for stealing such a small amount, whereas we assume that a Nochri will not.  It is part of a Jew’s character to be forgiving, especially regarding small matters.

This point is amplified by Taanit 25a, where the Gemara records the story of a particular drought in Eretz Yisrael.  Rabi Eliezer prayed to Hashem on behalf of the people, but to no avail.  Rabi Akiva then stepped up to pray, but unlike Rabi Eliezer, he was answered.  Naturally, people started saying that Rabi Akiva was greater than Rabi Eliezer.  In response, Hashem sent Bat Kol that announced, “Lo Shezeh Gadol Mizeh, Elah Shezeh Maavir Al Midotav, Vezeh Eino Maavir Al Midotav,”  “It is not because one is greater than the other, but rather because this one (Rabi Akiva) was able to ‘look away,’ whereas this one (Rabi Eliezer) could not ‘look away.’”  This Gemara means that Rabi Akiva was able to forgive minor inconveniences that other people caused to him, while Rabi Eliezer was not.  Clearly, we must learn from Rabi Akiva.  It is not so horrible, for example, if someone accidentally bumps into you; you do not have to make a big deal over it.  Being forgiving is one thing that distinguishes a Jew from a Nochri.  At least regarding our interactions with other people, the Gemarot in Eiruvin and Taanit both clearly support the well-known saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”

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