Planning My Revenge
“We’re going to make a Havdalah set for that counselor,” I told Betzalel.
“I don’t want to give a gift to him,” my son insisted.
“Don’t worry,” I assured him, “you’ll want to give this one to him!”
We bought a joy buzzer to place on the bottom of the cup, and wound it up to shock the mean counselor when he picked up his cup to begin Havdalah. We also put invisible ink powder all over the cup so that his hands would be stained for a few days after touching the cup. We bought sneezing powder for Besamim, and an exploding cigar as the candle.
We began to imagine the counselor’s reaction as he would be shocked by the buzzer, his hands stained, his sneezing over the Besamim and his shock when his candle exploded. Betzalel couldn’t stop laughing.
“So,” I asked, “do you want to stop at the camp on the way home to present his gift?”
“No,” he said, “I already feel much better. I don’t need to do it. I don’t want to do something so mean. Let’s through the ‘set’ out!”
“Okay,” I said, “but we should through it out to fulfill a Mitzvah. Do you know which one?”
Betzalel, who was working on memorizing all 613 with me, quickly responded, “You shouldn’t take revenge.”
“Great! Anything else?” I asked.
“You shouldn’t bear a grudge.”
“Fantastic! Anything else?”
“You shouldn’t hate someone in your heart.”
We repeated the three Mitzvot and tossed the special Havdalah set into the trash.
On the way home, we discussed how he was able to express his anger without taking revenge.
My father zt”l called me a few days later: “Betzalel called to ask me a question about you!” he chuckled. “He told me about the Havdalah set and your discussion about revenge, but he had a problem; he overheard you quoting the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh (whose yahrtzeit is on the 15th of Tammuz) on, “Avenge the Children of Israel (Numbers 31:2),” that there are two possible approaches to vengeance; one, the planning, and two, the actual war. Betzalel is concerned that even your planning revenge against the counselor was revenge and he called me to ask about it.”
My heart was in my throat as I wondered whether my father would argue that I had violated the Mitzvah, even as it was pumped with pride over my son’s question, caring, and sensitivity in asking my father rather than me.
“I told him that intention matters and that your intention was for him to throw out the Havdalah set. I assured him that you followed the Torah each step of the way.”
“But,” he continued, “how did you come up with such a brilliant strategy?”
“I was raised by my father!”
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