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A Dvar Torah for Acharei- Mot-Kedoshim

Loving Others is Loving Oneself and G-d

A Dvar Torah for Acharei- Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27).

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © May 1, 2020

We turn to Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan Book 1 lesson 239 (Read Now).

In this week's Parsha HaShem commands us to “Love our fellow as we love ourselves.”

We are instructed to Love with purity and righteousness and to avoid false forms of so-called love which, in their many forms, are but idolatries of the ego.

We want Mashiach ben David now! Correct? But, what can we do to help establish his reign, preferably while avoiding the War of Magog? In a word LOVE. Remember that old song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love...?” “That's the only thing that there's just too little of...”

Rebbe Nachman and his talmidim endorsed this idea completely, as did David in his Tehillim. At Tehillim 122 we read with verses 6-9:

Pray for the welfare of Jerusalem; may those who love you enjoy tranquility.
May there be peace within your walls, tranquility in your palaces.
For the sake of my kin and my friends, I G-d for Shalom.
For the sake of the House of the Lord our God, I beg for goodness for you.

Without Love how will there ever be shalom?

Rebbe Nachman's beloved talmid Reb Nosson teaches that we must do our absolute best to avoid strife and conflict between people. We need to keep in mind that each person thinks and acts differently – we are all individuals. Yet, even though we sometimes don’t understand each other, we still must judge them favorably, while always maintaining the integrity of the Torah and the derech HaShem has etablished.

Sometimes it is all too easy to assume that the person we have a disagreement with is all bad. Once this is determined negativity builds on this belief brick by brick until the point that nothing the other person can do seems to be right. Sometimes that “other” person can even be ourselves! We think, 'Oh I am so far away from righteousness! Woe is me!' One may even come to believe that HaShem has rejected him or or her, or that He has rejected the other person we are harshly judging. But think about this: how could this be so considering the many verses of Scripture such as:

Be strong and courageous! Neither fear, nor be dismayed of them, for the Lord, your God He is the One Who goes with you. He will neither fail you, nor forsake you" – Deuteronomy 31:6.

So logically, doubting ourselves and others leads to doubting HaShem! HaShem says He will neither fail us, nor forsake us, so how we can imagine that He has failed or forsaken us? Is it not we who have, as it were, stepped into the shadows or momentary left the derech (the path of HaShem). We only need to get back on the derech and continue our journey! It is us, not Hashem.

But how can we get back on the derech? In this week's Likutey Moharan reading Rebbe Nachman explains that dissent, which is strife or schisms, leads to an inability of speech. As we discussed in last week's devar Torah, not all speech is human speech, which is to say, some speech comes from our animal natures and is meaningless, or even negative, G-d forbid. Baseless hate and troublesome divisions interfere or even completely block our ability to articulate true divine speech, both towards one another and even towards HaShem. It is in part for this reason that we begin our most important rote prayers, the Amida, with the words: “Adonai, s’fatai tif-tach ufi yagid t’hilatecha” – “My Master, open up my lips that my mouth may declare Your praise.” If we hold hatred, grudges, prejudices and the like in our hearts, how will we properly open our hearts and our lips in praise of He who is their Creator too, when He demands that we love others even as we love ourselves – Leviticus 19:18?

We must forgive! Even when no apology is offered. We must apologize for our shortcomings or poor decisions, even when we feel we have done nothing wrong. We must apologize for not being clear enough or for leaving an inaccurate impression of wrong. 'But what if they do not accept our apology? What if they hold onto their grudges against us?' Forgive them! We can only do what we can do. We are taught to ask for forgiveness three times from the heart. We can not force people to accept our apologies.

Must we “forgive and forget?” Not always! We are also commanded not to be naive. We are not to be "doormats." The Jew bows to none but HaShem! If someone has 'burned you' in some way forgive them, but it takes time to develop or redevelop trust. As the Rebbe explains at Likutey Moharan II, 7:

People should make it their business to talk to others about the purpose of life. For "He did not create [the world] to be desolate, He formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18). We all have an obligation to try to make this world a civilized place - a world filled with people who are truly human, Children of Adam, as the Torah says: "And fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28). The world is a civilized place only when filled with true Children of Adam, people who possess awareness and knowledge of God. A world without people who know God is a world of desolation and emptiness. Those who do not have this awareness cannot be called Children of Adam.

Just as it is a commandment to have children in order for the world to survive, so it is a commandment to instill awareness and knowledge of God in our children and anyone else whom we are in a position to influence. Teaching our children to know God is the essence of the commandment to have children. It is vital to ensure that future generations will be true Children of Adam and not wild animals who merely look human on the outside. Those who have no knowledge of God and do not feel His power cannot be called Children of Adam, because the ability to know God is the defining feature of the Children of Adam.

Everyone should make an effort to bring his friends to greater knowledge of God and fear of heaven, thereby making his friends his "students" . This way, when his days are complete and his time comes to leave the world, he will be clothed in the words he spoke to his friends, and it will be as if he himself is literally still in this world.

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