Published Date: August 10, 2020
This week’s music: https://youtu.be/LFbf7YqcT1Q
Friends let’s please keep it simple this week. What’s going on in our world is mamash heartbreaking. There is no place for hatred in the Jewish family. Brothers and sisters can’t hate each other. Certainly not to do so in public. For that matter I can’t hate you even in the silence of my heart (Vayikra 19.17) nor am I allowed to hate myself (Vayikra 19.18) . Simple I can’t hate you and hatred needs to be put to an end immediately.
This week’s Torah portion of “Ekev” opens up with one of the most well-known commentaries of Rashi. The Torah reads, “V’hyah ekev tishme’un,” and it will be (lashon simchah,an expression of joy) when you listen to your foot heels (Devarim 7.12). Rashi says why does the Torah use the word “ekev” foot heels? To remind us not to step on the “mitzvoth” which we tend to take lightly. Those daily mitzvoth which become rote and void of “kavanah.”
It feels to me like today we have taken the “small” mitzvoth and made them large misunderstood. I am referring to basic human interactions which should be foundational values between us are being blown out of proportion from, both ends of the world and being turned upside down on their heads in order to prove who is right and who is wrong. The jealousy, hatred and blaming of others seems to have no boundaries. All in the name of good and justice. If I take a liter of water and put one drop of poison in it it could be deathly to drink. Yet we all willing to throw lies into our rhetoric if it can help our just cause. Truth be told, I can’t show kindness to someone by hating someone else for him. The two elements just don’t mix well. Historically, one of them has always been stronger and took over.
We are just too comfortable speaking publicly with hatred for another being while not realizing that the only who can hate another so passionately is one who already harbors much hatred inside, with much of it going in the other direction. When a spouse God forbid yells at the other, “I hate you,” he/she is really saying, “I hate my life with you.” “I hate MY life!” I hate MY life in the plague of Corona! Please give me back my empty rote lifestyle!
I want to share with you a prayer that was written and inserted in our daily prayers hundreds of years ago based on a teaching in Talmud Shabbat (149.2). “Anyone whose friend is punished on his account is not welcome in the courtyard of Hashem.” Therefore we say each night, in front of God, before going to sleep, “I forgive anyone who angered me today or sinned against me, whether physically or monetarily, whether by accident or intentionally, whether in speech or in action… no one should be punished on my behalf.” Every morning as we enter the house of prayer we open with the following prayer from Rav Moshe Botchetch: Please help me direct my intention on this day in all of my action, speech…. to see myself, all of B’nai Yisrael and the entire world for the side of merit. If I start my day with this wonderful prayer and I end my day begging not to have anyone suffer on my behalf how can I be so filled with hatred?
I tell someone we need to stop hating ourselves and he tells me, “easier said than done.” That is the human response. The man made response of “yiush” despair and giving up. This is not something that comes from God. God never gives up on us. He keeps testing us, baiting us to return humbly and happily.
Friends, let’s not wait for our leaders to show the way. Let’s all be our own honest loving leaders. Please don’t speak out with hatred. Let‘s speak out with honest love and caring and please let’s do it now. If you can honestly turn inward and see where the hatred you are expressing is based, then please turn it off. You don’t deserve it, I don’t deserve. It does no good for anyone. Hatred only and always hurts!
There is so much good in our world. For some of us it took the shakeup of the Corona plague for us to open our eyes and hearts to see how much people can care about each other. May we be blessed to appreciate the value of every single “mitzvah” we get to do and even more so, the deeds we receive the honor to do for another person.
Let’s please look for the good in everyone, which will send out light to the world so that we can get it together and look forward to the day, in the words of Yeshayahu, “Ki beiti beit tefilah yikare lchol haamim,” because My House will be a House of prayer for all of the nations (Isiah 56.7).
I read in “The Book of Love and Prayer, a collection of Zivi Ritchie’s many beautiful booklets with teachings of Reb Shlomo, the following: “…All that we can hope for is that maybe we can unlearn all of the hatred, because hatred is taught. Love is from heaven. Let there be love between us. Let us return to whatever we learned in heaven before we were born. The question is not how much you love each other. The question is how much you love each other when you hate each other.” Let us only love.