Ah…the taste of freedom. Beautiful, sweet, and exhilarating. Like a return to our natural selves, free from external pressures and distractions. Free to be who we are. Wouldn’t it be splendid if we’d experienced the ultimate freedom already this Pesach?
We’re told that a great calamity befell the students of Rabbi Akiva because they didn’t show the proper respect for one another. Ahavas yisroel they had; it was respecting one another which was lacking.
One can have a strong love for their fellow Jew, yet not have the proper respect for them. In fact, at times it’s the love itself which may fuel disrespect: “it’s because of my care and concern that I want the best way of life for them”. And if they have a different style, nusach, or minhag than how can I accept that?!
Respecting our fellow Jew means exactly that: respecting their differences and accepting that perhaps what’s right for me isn’t for them. Or, better: maybe we can even learn from the area of yiddishkeit they do emphasize.
This is especially important as we witness the ugly face of Anti-Semitism raring its head once again. In a twisted way it reminds us that the haters see us as one people and that they got right. A fault here, a deficiency there, but who are we? One people.
As a parent there is nothing more rewarding than watching children play together and rejoice in the success of the other. Let us resolve to do the same for our Father in heaven. The next time we have the urge to speak loshon hara, or to relate a juicy experience, let’s simply switch gears and find something nice or uplifting to say. If you notice something nice about someone, take the time and say it their spouse. Sometimes a simple compliment can go a long way.
If at times it seems jealousy and divisiveness are too overwhelming to resist, we need only look to the survivors of the Holocaust who have shown us the infinite reservoir of inner strength we posses. Surely we can win over our own negative traits, as well.
The stronger we become as a people, the more prepared we will be for the great day of the ingathering of the exiles promised us so long ago. The survivors didn’t give up their faith, neither should we.
May we have a peaceful Shabbos of Jewish unity,