This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Kedoshim (5768)
In this week's Torah portion we find perhaps the most important commandment in the Book: Love your neighbor as yourself (19:18).
One of the holiest and wisest scholars of all time, Rabbi Akiva, said that this is the main principle of the Torah. And the holy book 'Tanya' written by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains why (chapter 32).
The purpose of learning Torah is to 'raise' the soul to its source (the wisdom and will of the Creator) and make us feel that we are, in the language of the Torah, Sons of G-d. In other words - Brothers: like one person with one soul. Hence the Torah bring us to Love the other as OURSELVES, because we really ARE one person.
But this seemingly is not true. Simple observation shows that The Torah had divided the Jewish people into thousands of levels, categories, degrees, sub-degrees and super-degrees of observance, nuances and customs.
So how can the Torah bring unity and brotherly love?
The answer to this question lies in the attitude of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. This Rabbi who lived some 250 years ago was one of the great pupils of the Baal Shem Tov and was renowned for his unbounded love and affection for even the most sinful and repulsive Jews.
He explained that this attitude came from a short saying he heard from the mouth of his master. The Baal Shem Tov said:
"When it states in Pirkei Avot (the sayings of the founders 2:2) 'All Torah that isn't accompanied by work won't last.' 'work', in this case means Love of your fellow man."
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak understood that this means that just as when one opens a business (work) he doesn't wait for people to request his products but rather sets up shop and puts out signs in a place where people MIGHT need his wares so also with brotherly love; one must love his fellow man and feel his needs before he asks for it.
To understand this, here is a story that occurred just a week ago on Passover in Meron, to Rabbi Elimelch Hertzel.
Rabbi Hertzel was sitting in the synagogue there (built around the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) when a bearded, respectable looking, orthodox Jew sat next to him, shook his hand and asked, "You're a Lubavitcher, right? Do you have any connection to the people who advertise the stories in the Chabad papers?" (There are several weekly publications by various Chabad organizations in Israel). I have a story I want to advertise."
When he answered that he didn't but would be happy to hear a good story the man continued.
"It's a fresh story that happened one week ago with my sister and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Maybe you can find someone to publish it. It's like this:
"My sister's name was Ariela Ditza and her last name was Daniel. Anyway, years ago she began to feel sick. She went to all sorts of doctors but it kept getting worse until they finally sent her to the hospital to make tests and sure enough when the results came in they showed the worst.
"She had a terrible disease. The doctors all agreed that it was a miracle that she was alive there was nothing they could do and at best she had a few months to live.
"Needless to say we were all broken. Not only that but she was a married woman with several children which made it a double, triple tragedy!
"What could we do? We prayed, gave charity, asked everyone we knew to say Psalms and hoped for the best … but every day she got worse and worse until she was bedridden.
"But we didn't know it but one of her friends decided to take things into her own hands and without telling anyone flew to New York to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I don't know where she got the idea… I mean we aren't against Lubavitch or anything but we aren't Chassidim of the Rebbe either and neither was she. So I don't know why, but she did it.
"Anyway she got there, to Brooklyn and to 770 Eastern Parkway where the Rebbe is and she went in to the building and started asking Chassidim what to do to see him. Finally someone told her that in a short time the Rebbe would come out of his office to pray the afternoon or the evening prayer with a congregation in the synagogue and if she stood near his door she could ask him for a blessing.
"So she stood there by the door getting more and more nervous and sure enough after about a half-hour it opened and the Rebbe appeared but she got so stunned or amazed that she couldn't talk. And she didn't have to. The Rebbe stopped, turned to her, looked at her and said,
"'I know you are here for Ariela Ditza bat (the daughter of) Sarah (or whatever her mother's name was). You can tell her that she will have a partial recovery and a relatively long life.'
"Then he gave her a blessing for a safe journey home and continued on his way.
"Well, I guess she didn't want to tell my sister over the phone so she took the next flight home and from the airport came straight to my sister lying on her sickbed in my house, to tell her what she had done and to give her the good news.
"I was there and saw the whole thing. She told her the entire story; how she got tongue-tied and how the Rebbe said Ariela Ditza and blessed her before she could say a word.
"But she must not have thought about it beforehand because as soon as she finished and realized what a miracle it was she fainted! Passed out completely!
"And my sister? Well it was just like the Rebbe said! She got better and lived for, not just a few more months but for twenty three more happy productive years. And just last week she passed away at the age of fifty four! I guess that's 'relatively' old compared to what the doctors said.
"Maybe also part of the miracle was the date she passed away. It was last week on the eleventh day of Nisan… the Lubavitcher Rebbe's birthday!
This explains our question. True, the Torah causes division but it also is the source of unity. Just as every cell of the human body is different but all are unified into a single person.
It all depends on which comes first; which takes first precedence. If we are selfish and treat the Torah as a means for personal achievement or even spiritual gain… it divides. Then brotherly love is impossible and becomes, in fact, self-love.
But if our brotherly love is like a 'business'; namely our desire to 'find customers' precedes all differences. Then we need the Torah as a source of inspiration, energy, love and enthusiasm to enable us to connect each (different type of) person to the Creator… and it unifies.
Just like the Lubavitcher Rebbe did when he knew of what Ariela Ditza needed before her friend asked. And as he did in even a more massive way by spreading 'Chabad Houses' throughout the world is to advertise "Brotherly Love" eventually, to all mankind.
This is truly the work of Moshiach; to unify all mankind to the Torah and the true love of the Creator.
But it's all up to us to carry out the Rebbe's work. We have to do all we can to bring and reveal……
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