Friday, June 17, 2016
Mussar Drosha: Achdus
We are told, why was the Beis Hamikdash destroyed? Because of sinas chinam (baseless hatred between Jews). We can all see that it has likely gotten worse over the years. And now? Now, the Jewish People have so many problems with this, that it is hard to begin to discuss it. You see, I believe in dressing in Bekishe's and Shtreimels, however, we have things where if we see a person who doesn't dress like that, or in a suit, we just jump and judge them! Is this proper? They might actually be an incredible person! Take the holy Chafetz Chaim for example, he dressed in the clothing of common-folk. Nowadays, if one of us saw him, and didn't know who he was, we might think to ourselves "Ah! He's just an am haaretz." But in reality, he was one of the greatest Gedolim you'll see! So right away, we see a lot of problems. Doesn't anybody remember the saying (Pirkei Avos 4:20) 'Al tistakel bi'kankan (Do not look at the vessel, but at what it contains)'? It is not what the person is wearing, but what kind of a person they are. And since a person cannot know another's thoughts, they cannot look at another person and know if they are good or not. This is a problem today. A lot of us tend to jump and judge our fellows very quickly, without even knowing what kind of a person they are! This is a big aveirah (sin). Don't people realize this? Just because you look like you would be a better person than someone else, doesn't mean that you are. As Chiddushei Refoel writes on the first verse of Parshas Kedoshim:
"Additionally, I believe that maybe one of the reasons why the commandments regarding Kedusha were said to the entire Nation is to teach us that one of the ways for the Jewish People to be holy is for them to come together, and have Achdus! Achdus is a very, very important thing. That is one of the things that I believe, unfortunately Am Yisrael lacks nowadays. The Jewish People is supposed to be like one person, as it was at Har Sinai – where we reached Achdus. As we are told, at Har Sinai, we were ‘Ki’ish echad bi’leiv echad’. Now look at the Jewish People!! Some think that others aren’t frum enough, others the opposite; and some just don’t get along with others because they hold different minhagim than them, so they think that the others are wrong. First, if you are that frum, then you would never treat others badly because you think that they aren’t frum enough. That will only hurt, and it will make the “less frum” people mad at “more frum” people! You would then be ruining the Achdus of Klal Yisrael, and causing the second thing I mentioned, to happen. The third one is extremely absurd as well. You would stay away from people just because they keep different minhagim than you, and you think they are wrong? How do you know? Even if you think that they are doing something wrong, does that give you the excuse to ruin the Achdus? The other person might be doing something bad, but if you, Chas V’Shalom cause animosity, then you are for sure doing a bad thing! And as the Alter of Kelm (HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida zt"l) said; a certainty outweighs a doubt.1 The problem, I believe, with the Achdus of the Jewish People, is that we think about ourselves too much. If we were thinking about what is right, we would certainly not cause trouble between Jews, as we know that that is very wrong. But when we think about ourselves, then we look at if the person is doing something that we don’t approve of. Think about what I just said. That we don’t approve of what they are doing. It might be something that helps with their Avodas Hashem, but no! Just because we don’t like it, it is bad. Does this make any sense? We are the bad one in this case. And every single Jew must try hard not to cause any trouble in Klal Yisrael. Remember: One of the Mitzvos in the parsha of Kedoshim is ‘Vi’ahavta li’reiacha kamocha’, which means to love every Jew as ourselves. As the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Kopitchinitz zt”l used to discuss, loving every Jew does not just apply to Jew’s like Gedolim, but to ones whom it is hard to love as well – such as ones who we consider “less frum”, or “too frum”.2 If we love them all, then we can have Achdus. And if the Jewish People has lots of Achdus, it can help the entire People be holy together!! May Hashem help us all with this, Amein, kein Yi’hi ratzon."
This is true. And there are many other reasons for lack of Achdus (unity) among the Jewish People. Unfortunately, we just don't have the 'brotherly love' which we are supposed to. After all, is there not a Commandment to 'love your fellow like yourself'? Likely the essence of this Commandment is what Hillel said (Gemara Shabbos 31a) "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow". However, there is also a spiritual aspect of this, that is, actually loving your fellow as you love yourself. This might be hard sometimes. And I believe that most people do not fulfill this Commandment properly. Actually, this might be a big part of why the Jewish People has Achdus problems. But then how do we love our fellow as ourselves? The first Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Shnuer Zalman of Liadi zt"l) answers this question: He explains that, when we look at ourselves and everybody else as the body, it is very hard to fulfill this Commandment. However, explains Reb Shnuer Zalman beautifully, if we look at ourselves and others as Souls - which is really every person's essence - then it will be much easier for everybody to do this! Because, instead of looking at the material side of things, we look at everybody as their Soul - which is a part of Hashem - and obviously so pure. How could we not love them then?3
Now we see just some of the many problems with the Achdus of the Jewish People. And there are many more! But, if we take the above advice of the holy Alter Rebbe (Reb Shnuer Zalman zt"l), then things will get a lot better, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem). Even if other Jews, treat us badly, (Chas V'Shalom) then we still must look at them with a good eye, and love them just as much. In fact, there is a nice story I saw on this topic:
One time, when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt"l) was a very young child, he asked his father why we have two eyes. And his father replied that (he thought that) the reason is that a person must have one eye (so to speak, not literally) with which they look on things favorably, and another eye with which they look upon things strictly and with judgment. The favorable 'eye', his father continued, is the 'eye' with which we must look at every fellow Jew. And the strict 'eye', is the one with which we should look at ourselves (a lot of times) with.4 This message needs to be taken to heart, thought about, and acted upon.
May Hashem help every Jew to have better Achdus always, Amein, Kein Yi'hi Ratzon (so may it be His Will).
I wish a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos to every single Jew, and may Hashem help us all to have one, Amein!
Please feel free to leave any comments!
1 Stone Edition Chumash. Artscroll Publications.
2 Sparks of Mussar. By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l. Feldheim Publications.
3 Chabad.org. Parshas Kedoshim in-depth. From our Sages.
4 Chabad.org. Parshas Kedoshim in-depth. From our Sages.
at 3:17:00 PM