The Gemara recounts how a potential convert asked Hillel HaZaken to teach him the entire Torah on one foot. Hillel responded, “Don’t do to others that which you don’t want done to you.” It’s interesting that he didn’t say it in the positive, “Do to others,” but rather suggested what not to do.
A similar point can be made of mitzvos in general. There are a lot more negative commandments than there are positive ones.
Perhaps the message is that before we embark on a project, even a positive one, the first attitude is one of pause. For example, in a relationship. The foundation on which a healthy relationship is built is respect. Respect of boundaries, recognition of another, and ultimately respecting differences. This creates the space in which a fellow human being can enter our lives.
Same is with a teacher/student relationship. Before teaching a student, a teacher must press pause on their own insight and thoughts and enter the mind of the student. It’s hard to listen if we are consumed with our own thoughts.
It happens sometimes that we feel full of ahavas Yisrael and want to help other Yidden, but somewhere along the way we cause offense or hurt or aggravation. We’re left wondering what went wrong. We had the best intentions, but the results were very different than we expected.
Many times, it was the pause that was missing. We set out in a state of passion and inspiration to accomplish something, but we were so consumed with our feelings and the way we pictured things getting done that we inadvertently pushed others out of the way.
Before embracing another with love, we must first make sure we have in mind the other’s needs and preferences and are not just looking to extend ourselves. Once the proper respect is in place, we can then work on all the positive feelings which bring us together, ultimately as one nation with the coming of Mashiach now.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,