03 May AHAVAS YISRAEL
This week’s parsha (19:18) discusses the mitzvah of ךומכ†ךערל†תבהאו ” ,Love your friend like yourself.” Reb Akiva says, “This is a great rule of the Torah” (Rashi). A convert asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel told him, “Don’t do to your friend what you wouldn’t want others to do to you. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary – go study it” (Shabbos 31.). This teaches us that the main principle of the Torah is ahavas Yisrael.
The Tanya (ch.32) writes, “When a person’s primary joy is his neshamah (and not his body), it is a straight and easy†path†towards†fulfilling†the†mitzvah†ךומכ†ךערל†תבהאו† ,to love every Jewish soul, from the greatest to the smallest. Because who can imagine the neshamah’s greatness? Especially since we all have the same Father, thus all of Bnei Yisrael are brothers. They are brothers because the roots of their souls are from Hashem. Therefore, it is only their bodies that separate them. But those who consider the body primary and the soul secondary cannot have true love and brotherhood.”
Rebbe Dovid of Lelov zt’l said, “When people ask me for advice on how to fear Hashem, I don’t know what to tell them. But when they ask for advice on loving Hashem, I respond that the path is to love your fellow man.”
A Slonimer chassid wrote to his friend, “My mind still echoes with the Beis Avraham’s call impressing upon us the immense privilege to do a favor to a child of the King of kings, Hakadosh Baruch Hu.” How would you feel if a human king asked you to do his son a favor? Well, then, how should we feel when Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the King of kings asks us to love and help His children, Bnei Yisrael. How fortunate we should feel!
We should seek to do chesed. It should be on our minds because the privilege is so great. A wagon driver saw the renowned Slonimer chassid, Reb Moshe Minder zt’l, walking along the roadside, and offered him a ride. Reb Moshe replied that he preferred to walk.
The wagon driver insisted that he come on the wagon, so Reb Moshe Minder acquiesced.
On the wagon, Reb Moshe Minder asked, “Why was it so important for you that I ride with you on the wagon.” The wagon driver pointed to his ears and said, “These ears heard from Rebbe Moshe Kobriner that a day you don’t do chesed is a geshtorbiner tug, a dead day. The day is almost over, and I didn’t do chesed yet. That’s why I insisted you ride with me.” He didn’t want the day to pass without doing chesed.
The Arizal taught that before davening, accept I, “השע†תוצמ†ילע†לבקמ†ינירה† ,say should one on myself the mitzvah to love my fellow man like myself.” Unfortunately, some people say these words while harming others. For example, someone comes into the beis medresh to daven Shacharis and sees there is†no†room†for†him†to†put†down†his†tefil lin bag on the table, so he shoves all the tefillin†bags†aside†–†making†it†hard†for†everyone†else†to†find†their†bags†–†all†so† he can to put down his bag. He does this while on are ךערל†תבהאו†ילע†לבקמ†ינירה†ךומכ† words the his lips. This is because he says these words by rote without knowing what he is saying.
Reb Daniel Frish zt’l was once in Belgium and saw that before Shacharis, Rebbe Yankele of Antwerp zt’l went around to all the guests in the beis medresh offering them a cup of coffee or help in some other way. When Reb Yankele offered Reb Daniel a coffee, Reb Daniel reprimanded him, “It is improper to speak before Shacharis!”
Reb Yankele replied, “The poskim write that one should say, ילע†לבקמ†ינירה†ךומכ†ךערל†תבהאו†השע†תוצמ† before davening Shacharis. Do you think it is merely lip service? It means to keep this mitzvah literally!”
Years later, Reb Daniel Frish commented that this conversation was a life-changer for him. Although it is a good practice not to speak before Shacharis, as this helps us daven with kavanah, this shouldn’t stop us from helping another Yid.
Rebbe Eliezer Mendel of Lelov zt’l said, “Helping your wife get the children dressed and ready for cheder is the best preparation for davening Shacharis.” A wealthy man came to the Chidushei HaRim zt’l to request a brachah for children. Reb Bunim z’l (the Chidushei HaRim’s gabai) greeted the wealthy guest and told him that the Rebbe wasn’t available to see people at the moment. The wealthy visitor became angry with Reb Bunim and smacked him across the face.
Reb Bunim went to the Chidushei HaRim, and without saying any names, told him what happened. “Why do I deserve this?” he complained. “I’m simply trying to keep order in your court so people shouldn’t disturb you at all hours of the day.” Later that day, Reb Bunim told the wealthy visitor that the Rebbe was ready to see him. When the rich person entered the Rebbe’s room, the Chidushei HaRim immediately understood that he was the person who smacked the gabai.
The Chidushei HaRim said, “I will not see you until you ask Reb Bunim forgiveness.” The wealthy man asked Reb Bunim for forgiveness, but Reb Bunim told the Chidushei HaRim, “I will not forgive him until the Rebbe promises him healthy, erlicher children.” The Rebbe responded, “Since you requested it, I promise that he will have a healthy child within a year.” A year†later¨†this†person’s†first†child†was† born.
Rebbe Dovid of Lelov zt’l was walking through the forest between Lelov and Lizensk to go to Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk zt’l but got lost and didn’t know the way out of the woods. He met an elderly person in the forest who walked with him and showed him the way out. Before taking leave from one another, this Yid told Rebbe Dovid: “A person has two eyes: one to see his own faults and the other to see the qualities of others. And when a carpenter wants to put together two pieces of wood, and there is a knob in one of them, he doesn’t cut off the knob. Instead, he makes an indention in the other piece to make place for the knob.” (This means that instead of trying to change your fellow man¨†find†a†place†in†your†heart†to†accept† your fellow man as he is.) After saying these lessons, the old man disappeared, and Rebbe Dovid Lelover realized that this old man was Eliyahu HaNavi. He came to teach him these crucial lessons in ahavas Yisrael.
Reb Yitzchak, a poor man, asked Rebbe Moshe of Kobrin zt’l for a bracha for parnassah. The Rebbe gave him some money and told him to go buy two meals and eat them at home. “But don’t share any food with your wife and children. Eat the meals all by yourself. Then come back to me, and I will give you a bracha for wealth.”
Reb Yitzchak brought the food home and started eating. His wife and children stood next to him at the table, watching him eat, but he couldn’t give them anything. It was a very painful experience for Reb Yitzchak and his family. Reb Yitzchak returned to Rebbe Moshe Kobriner, and Rebbe Moshe told him, “I will bless you with immense wealth, but there’s a condition: Whenever you sit down to eat, you must remember how you felt when you ate those two meals in front of your children. You must remember that there are hungry people who†aren’t†financial† well off as you are.” Reb Yitzchak was traumatized by the experience of eating in front of his hungry family, so he told the Rebbe that if he had to experience that feeling again every time he ate, he would prefer to forgo the blessing for wealth. He returned home and told his wife about his decision. She quickly went to the Rebbe and pleaded that he should nevertheless grant them his brachah for wealth despite her husband’s reservation.
Rebbe Moshe Kobriner replied, “Don’t worry. You will become wealthy.” It took just a few days, and Rebbe Yitzchak became fabulously wealthy. He would join the poor in the local soup kitchen, so he would never forget the plight of the poor as he ate. He only ate at home when he made a chasunah for one of his children. At those times, he opened his door wide for all poor people.
Everyone was welcome to celebrate and eat a meal together with him and his family. It states (Mishlei 16:4), ,לעפ†לכ†והנעמל†’ה† “Everything Hashem made, He made it for His sake.” Everything can and should be used for Hashem’s honor. The Yosher Divrei Emes asks how can one use apikorsus, heresy, and atheism for Hashem’s honor? He replied, when a poor person asks you for financial†aid¨†now†it†is†the†time†to†imple ment the attitude of apikorsus. Your emunah tells you that the poor person’s plight is for his good, it is bashert, and that his poverty is certainly saving him from worse troubles.
So you wonder, “Why should I help him? It is for his best!” Now it is time to use the attribute of apikorsus in a positive way by having pity on this poor man. And with this thought in mind, you will help your fellow man compassionately. Most of the birchas hashachar are written
in plural form. For example, חקופ†םימורע†שיבלמ†¨םירוסא†ריתמ†¨םירוע , are all in the plural, and we praise Hashem for the chasadim He does for all mankind. The exception is יכרצ†לכ†יל†השעש , “Hashem does for me all my needs.” Why is this brachah an exception?
Why is this brachah an exception? Rebbe Moshe Leib of Sasov zy’a answered that one must thank Hashem for giving him all his needs, but regarding others, he should think that they don’t have all their needs, for this will prompt him to help them.