Shmuel the Small would say: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice; when he stumbles, let your heart not be gladdened...."

Ethics of the Fathers, 4:19


Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, taught:

"Nothing is by chance: every single event or experience in a person's life is predetermined and purposeful. So if a person chances to witness the Degradation of his fellow, he must realize that he, too, suffers from the same lack in one form or another. Otherwise, why would Divine Providence have caused him to see his fellow's failing? Obviously, to open his eyes to something he must correct in himself."

So even if one is your enemy, and justifiably so; even if his moral and spiritual downfall is one of his own making - it could have happened without your having been made aware of it. That you have witnessed it has nothing to do with him: it is a message to you, enjoining you to deal with a similar negative element - be it in subtlest of forms - within yourself.

Shmuel the Small lived at a time when the Jewish community was threatened by vicious detractors, whose attacks against the very soul of Judaism he was forced to answer in kind. As the Talmud relates, it was he who authored the harshly worded passage "V'lamalshnim" ("For the informers, may there be no hope, and may all heretics and wicked ones be immediately lost...."), to be included in the daily prayers.

However, his successful efforts to disenfranchise them only humbled him - indeed, his extraordinary humility earned him the title, "the Small." Shmuel's life and leadership truly exemplified the ideal that the more a person triumphs over evil, all the more so must he search his heart and soul for its faintest reflection in his own self.