This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Kedoshim (5765)
This week's Torah section contains fifty one commandments. Three of them are from one sentence;
"Don't take revenge, don't bear a grudge against your people and love your brother like yourself, I am G-d."(19:17)
At first glance these seem to be a bit redundant. Seemingly it would have been enough to just write 'Love your brother like yourself' and forget the rest. If everyone had brotherly love it would certainly eliminate grudges and revenge.
To answer this here is a story about the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber.
Shortly after he assumed the leadership of the Chabad Chassidim in 1892 a man entered his office and asked for a blessing for a very serious matter (the story does not say what it was but it seems to have been a matter of life and death).
The Rebbe however, refused! He flatly told him that he was able to help most people but in this case nothing could be done. The poor man had to leave the meeting empty handed with a broken heart.
He closed the door behind him, stood in the hall and burst out into bitter tears.
The Rebbe had a brother, Rabbi Zalman Aaron. He was an extremely gifted, learned, and wise man and it just so happened that he saw this poor fellow weeping. He approached, waited for him to calm down a bit and asked him what was wrong.
When the fellow told him his bitter story and how the Rebbe refused to give him a blessing he told the man to wait, went to his brother's (the Rebbe's) door, knocked and entered.
"This is the way things will be from now on?" he asked rhetorically, "That people will ask for blessings and you will break their hearts and make them weep?!"
The Rebbe told his brother to go and tell the weeping man to come back in. He re-entered, the Rebbe blessed him and the problems disappeared.
This explains our questions: Sometimes the only real problem people have is a thin ‘Shell’ of egotism.
But when this 'shell' of selfishness is broken the blessings; the true inside identity or 'soul' can be revealed. That is what the Rebbe did by breaking this man’s heart and this is the message of our section.
When we meet up with difficult people, irritating people, even evil people, we should treat all this as their outside 'shell'. But their inside - their true soul - is pure good, and by Love it can be brought out.
This is the ONLY way that one can fulfill the commandment 'Love your fellow man as yourself."
That is why it is preceded by 'Don't take revenge or bear a grudge':
Because, revenge and grudges are the result of reacting to the 'ugly shell' of others; making love impossible.
Our job is to see through and 'break' this shell to treat it as a transparent covering that must be ignored in order to see ONLY the good that is underneath.In the Rebbe’s case he was able to break it directly with severity and still maintain a loving attitude. But we, rather than resort to ‘breaking’ must simply ignore the bad ‘shell’ and try to see (or even imagine) the good that lies beneath it.
And the ability to do this is gained by learning Torah properly.
That is why Brotherly Love is called “A Great principle of theTorah” (see Rashi here and Tanya chapt. 32) because the Torah gives the power to be connected to the essence and purpose of creation; the will of the Creator, hidden in each of His creations.
And this will be (and is) the job of Moshiach; to strengthen the Torah, the Jewish people and Judaism by uniting them all in love and the true ONEness of the Creator. We just have to try to see the good in each human and do all we can to bring...
Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.