MAY 2-3, 2003 1 IYAR 5763
"You shall love your fellow as yourself" (Vayikra 19:18)
We all recognize this famous misvah, to love our friend as much as we love ourselves. Rashi quotes Rabbi Akiba that this is the fundamental rule of the Torah. The Ramban has an interesting explanation of this misvah. He says that except for a few saintly people, it is almost impossible to feel literally the same love for others as people feel for themselves. In fact, if someone is in danger, his life comes before that of someone else. Rather, what Hashem wants of us is to want for others the same degree of success and prosperity that we want for ourselves. In addition to that, we must treat others with the utmost respect and consideration. It is human nature to say that we wish others well, but deep down we want less for them than for ourselves. The Torah wants the Jew to condition himself and overcome that nature, and desire for others the fullest degree of success that he wants for himself.
Rabbi David Goldwasser adds another beautiful insight into this misvah. In our daily lives we meet up with many types of people. With certain types of people we can learn to love them with a certain amount of effort and education. For example, to empathize with the ragged looking individual walking into our shul, or perhaps the fellow sitting next to us who displays no talents or particularly distinguishing attributes. Since he seems so unfortunate, we can learn to love him. However, if we are confronted by someone with talent or a dazzling personality, or if the person has the same talents as us but does a better job and gets more recognition, many times we feel a sense of competition and envy. That person who is like yourself is more difficult to love. Hence the Torah is telling us, love your friend as yourself. Even though he is like yourself, don't feel envy, love him! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Rebuke, you shall rebuke your fellow man" (Vayikra 19:17)
One of the many misvot in this week's perashah is to rebuke our fellow Jew if he is doing something wrong. As important as it is, it is also one of the least properly performed. Often, we don't want to get "involved" so we just don't say anything. Other times, we will be harsh and sometimes say too much and hurt the other person's feelings, and sometimes even embarrass him in front of others. The key to this misvah is, like everything else, how would we want to be rebuked ourselves?
If we would be driving with a low tire, we would want someone to tell us. When someone is doing something wrong, it's at least as bad as driving dangerously. Yet no one wants to be belittled or humiliated and we must always remember how we would feel.
Rabbi David Feinstein says that the Torah repeats the word ?????????????, rebuke you shall rebuke, to teach us that we should rebuke ourselves before we tell others what they're doing wrong. This is the same thought that was just mentioned. In order for our words to be effective, we should be sincere in our trying to improve others, and that is if we are also trying to better ourselves.
If we are careful how we rebuke others and do it with sensitivity and concern for their well being, our words will have the right effect and all of us will have improved tremendously. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Love your fellow man as yourself, I am Hashem" (Vayikra 19:18)
The Hatam Sofer commented: The commandment to love our fellow man is a concept that anyone can relate to with his own intellect. Nevertheless, the Torah tells us to love our fellow man because it is Hashem's will. If your love of other people is based only on your own feelings, there could easily be a lack of consistency. One day you might feel positive towards someone and on the next day your feelings can change. But the Torah states that Hashem commands us to love others. We need to develop positive attitudes towards others by focusing on their virtues whether it comes easily to us or whether it is difficult.
People ask how it is possible to feel love towards someone when you meet him for the first time. Once when Rabbi Zelig Pliskin was giving a lecture to beginners in Yeshiva Aish Hatorah in the Old City of Jerusalem, a cute little dog walked into the room. Everyone turned to the dog and smiled at it. Rabbi Pliskin asked, "Did anyone ever see this dog before?" No one had. He pointed out that even though this was the first time they had seen this dog, they all felt positive about it and their positive feelings were noticeable on their faces. If we would internalize the awareness that each human being is created in the image of Hashem, and Hashem himself wishes that we feel love for him, we would automatically have positive feelings for others.
If an extremely wealthy and generous person who was the source of your entire income would tell you to be kind and friendly to his relative, you would find it quite easy to do so. In your dealings with other people keep in mind that your Creator and the Sustainer of the universe is the Creator of this individual and He wants you to be kind and loving to him. (Growth through Torah)
Question: Why do we say "Vayechulu" after the Amidah on Friday night, and why must we stand up when saying it?
Answer: By reciting this paragraph, which declares that G-d has created the world, we are, in effect, bearing witness to the creation (which was completed before Shabbat). We stand because witnesses are obligated to stand. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
"Speak to the congregation of Israel and say, 'You shall be holy.'" (Vayikra 19:2)
Rashi comments that this law was stated in an assembly of the nation. Why did the Torah tell us that this particular law was related in this manner? Sometimes a person may be pious and observant in the privacy of his own home, but he is reluctant to appear "too Jewish" in public. This may lead him to be lax in his observance when among his friends or acquaintances. This pasuk is teaching that a person must be holy at all times. Not only in the privacy of one's home but even in an "assembly" of other people, a person should be proud to exhibit his dedication to Hashem, and the holiness of the Jewish people.
Question: Do you think twice before performing a misvah in public when it may invite criticism or sarcastic remarks from others?
This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 20:2-20
In this haftarah, Hashem commands the people of Israel to remove themselves from the idol worship which the other nations were involved in. By following Hashem's decrees, and rejecting the ways of the other nations, we would become a holy nation to Hashem. Parashat Kedoshim also gives many commands to reject the ways of the other nations in order to become kedoshim, holy to Hashem.
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