I just read a fascinating story, written by Rav Aharon Soloveitchik zt”l in Perach Mateh Aharon on hilchos tshuva, that he heard had happened with his father, uncles and grandfather, Rav Chaim in Brisk. To be brief, the story goes that Rav Chaim presided over a case in beis din in which the local butcher was being sued for 3000 ruble. After failing to persuade the butcher to agree to a compromise, the case was decided on its merits, and the decision went against the butcher – he had to pay the full amount.
The butcher was enraged and became very rude to Reb Chaim. He called him names and said very disparaging things to him. Reb Chaim remained silent, until he eventually became frustrated and no longer could. He said simply “Chatzuf, get out of here.”
The story goes on that shortly after, right before Yom Kippur, Reb Chaim searched out for the butcher in shul and asked forgiveness. The butcher refused and again became very rude. Reb Chaim said he asked 3 times in front of 3 people (his 3 sons) and he need not ask again. he added that he did not do anything wrong with what he said, he had not transgressed any rabbinic or Torah-based prohibitions. However, he felt it necessary to ask forgiveness because his words, even though they were allowed, had been hurtful to the butcher and had shamed him, and for that he must ask forgiveness.
A story in that vein just happened here in Bet Shemesh, via the local Tmura newspaper. Two local activists at times, more often than not, find themselves at odds with each other, at opposite ends of many local issues. that would be Rav Dov Lipman and Rav Shmuel Peppenheim.
Rav Dov Lipman is involved in local activist activities on behalf of the Dati Leumi community, on behalf of Old Bet Shemesh, on behalf of many local groups who feel they are being slighted. Sometimes the perception is that he is anti-haredi, but he is really pro-keeping Bet Shemesh diverse and giving everybody his fair share and not taking away from others just so you can get yours (that’s how I would define it, though I don’t know if he would say that is an accurate description).
Rav Shmuel Peppenheim is a member of Toldos Aharon, and from an “Eida establishment” family. His activism is mainly on behalf of Eida issues, and for the hard-core haredi community, though he has more recently been involved in the opening of a vocational training center and other “more moderate” issues than one would expect from an Eida representative.
Both Lipman and Peppenheim have been writing in Tmura newspaper for a long time, each from his own perspective on various local issues. At times, Rav Peppenheim has used his platform to attack Rav Lipman and his position on whatever issue is the hot topic of the day.
Before Yom Kippur, Rav Peppenheim decided to go for a sulha of sorts and apologize to Rav Lipman for his attacks on Lipman. He sent a letter to Rav Lipman and publicized it in the Tmura newspaper before Yom Kippur. Rav Lipman sent a response, also publicized in the newspaper, and they then had a brief meeting to solidify the new relationship.
Rav Peppenheim’s letter:
Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is a time for appeasing people you have hurt, and Chazal say that Yom Kippur does not clear sins between man and man, but one must appease his friend and ask forgiveness.
For a serious amount of time I have participated in the “Weekly Parliament” column of this newspaper and in the heat of my words I caused harm to important and dear people. I thought at the time that I was responding to the issue and not to any specific person. But it turns out that I hurt people, and they suffered because of me in various ways.
Specifically I am coming to appease the person of action in Torah ways who busies himself in communal affairs with vigor Rav Dov Lipman, whom i failed via him as I wrote about him personally harmful words, for which there was no place. My criticism could have been made more restrained and more proper and directly to the issue and not regarding the person.
I wish to use this platform to appease him and to invite him, in the spirit of the day, to dialogue out of respect and mutual respect, as a person of Torah to a Torani person, people who are Torah and Mitzva observant.
Rav Lipman’s letter:
I wish to publicize the thanks I feel towards R’ Shmuel Peppenheim regarding his apology for what he wrote about me two years ago, and to say i completely forgive him.
In the past weeks, I have learned a lot about this courageous man. Yes, courageous. When the violence began against the students of OROT Banot, Reb Shmuel immediately opposed it publicly. You must remember that we are talking about a Jew who dresses the same and comes from the same place as the extremist thugs. Despite that it could have caused damage to himself, he opposed them and continues to oppose them. This person i call courageous. And also his apology to me testifies to his courage.
The whole nation of Israel needs to understand that throughout our history there were differences of opinion. There were intiially 12 tribes, and in the time of redemption we will again be 12 tribes. There are many ways and approaches in religion, many various possibilities where to put the stress and focus, and many various customs and cultures. But, it is important to remember, at the end of the day, we are all children of the same family that must learn to respect each other. Reb Shmuel is a tremendous example of this.
I hope and wish that he and we all will have a good year. With the expectation of a year of cooperation between me and Reb Shmuel, and between all of us – the children of one city, one country, one nation and one family.
[Source: Sulha in Bet Shemesh - Life in Israel - http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2011/10/sulha-in-bet-shemesh.html]