Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Flowers

Each Jew represents one letter in the sefer Torah. If even one letter is missing in a sefer Torah, then that sefer is pasul and can't be used. Similarly, every single member of Klal Yisrael is significant. If even one is on your hate/grude/lashon hara list, then Klal Yisrael is not complete. If there is hate among Am Yisrael, then it is as if we are creating a pasul Sefer Torah!

We are now in the mourning period during sefirat haomer. (According to some, the mouring starts in chodesh Iyar.) We remember Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students who perished because they disrespected each other. The Gmara refers to them not as 24,000 students, rather as 12,000 pairs. There's a great question about this Gmara. Why use the fancy language of 12,000 PAIRS? Why not just outright state 24,000?
A possible answer is that each individual respected his other half/pair (ie: chavruta). However, when it came to other people - the respect wasn't there.
A person's chavruta thinks similarly to him. It's easy to respect those who are similar to us and respect us. However, the challenge arises when our fellow Jew is DIFFERENT from us.

In this past week's parsha, parshat Kedoshim, HaShem teaches us the mitzvah of "v'ahavta l're'acha kamocha" - love your fellow Jew as you love yourself. It is no coincidence that this commandment falls during sefirat haomer/the mourning period. How can we deal with those who frustrate us? Be it because of personality, religious, social/ethnic clashes, etc.
-We must try to find the positive attributes in every person. Nobody is perfect, but there is also nobody who is completely flawed.
-Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Ask yourself - "if I were him/her, how would I feel in this situation?" Find a benefit of the doubt/zchut/excue/rationalization for their behavior.
-You do not need to AGREE with a person in order to love him/her. You can say "I neither like nor agree with the lifestyle/attitude this person has." You can love someone who is sinning, irritating, rude, etc. Hate the dreadful action, not the person.

Shavua tov u'mevurach!


  1. Such a beautiful message, I wholeheartedly agree!

  2. Ish Yehudi - thanks! Glad you like it :)

  3. Tip: how to find the good in a person? Put yourself in that person's mother's shoes. You can find something to adore about every human being by doing so.

    Try it, it works.

  4. Tikva - that's a helpful tip. Thank you.
    But even a mother can be critical. I'd say most of us rarely criticize ourselves to the same extent that we criticize others.
    We make excuses for ourselves and rationalize. So, too, we should make excuses and rationalize for our fellow Jews and always try to dan l'kaf zchut!