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A Dvar Torah for Parshah Emor

"Judging Everyone Favorably"

A Dvar Torah for Parsha Emor: Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © May 08, 2020

We turn to Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan Book 1 #282

We read in this week's parsha: "Say to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon..." (Leviticus 21:1).

Hillel taught, "Be like Aharon [the first Cohen]: love peace, promote peace and draw people to Torah" (Avot 1:12).

Rebbe Nachman advised: "Judge everyone—including yourself—favorably" (Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #282).

It is easy to show kindness to those who are kind, but how about to those who are not? Once we determine someone is a "bad person" their apparent negatives can become all we see. Consider the following:

Rafael Landau was a Polish Jew who lived in Lublin. He was not observant of the laws or traditions of his people. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. He and his friends openly laughed and scoffed at those who did.

One Shabbat they decided to get their jollies by visiting the Breslov shul in Warsaw. On his way into the shul where the Chassidim were finishing their prayers, Rafael stubbed out his cigarette—right next to the mezuzah.

It is customary among Breslov Chassidim to study some of Rabbi Nachman’s Stories after the Shabbat morning prayers. Rafael walked in and stood behind Reb Yitzchok Breiter (who introduced Rebbe Nachman’s teachings to Poland and was martyred in the Holocaust). He listened to what Reb Yitzchok was teaching. He didn't laugh.

Rafael came back the next Shabbat and the next, for nine months. Not to join in the prayers, but to listen to more of what Reb Yitzchok had to teach from Rebbe Nachman. Finally, after nine months, Rafael decided to keep Torah and mitzvot.

Rafael disrespected the shul and the worshipers, but the Breslovers showed him compassion. Because of Rebbe Nachman's insights they judged Rafael favorably despite his improper actions and words.

To judge others favorably requires realizing that what truly motivates a Jew is his desire for HaShem and His Covenant. This is true of all Jews, both the righteous and the unrighteous. No matter what a Jew says or does, no matter what he thinks his motivation is, every Jew is drawn to the Derech, to the Way of HaShem. He or she either embraces Torah or chooses to resist it. But every Jew must deal with the Torah. In either case the Jew is taking his next step toward the Creator because this is what the eternal Covenant draws each of us to do. Walking the derech is fundamental to our nature. HaShem chose us. His Will is done through us and one day every Jew will bend the knee to HaShem and choose to embrace His Torah.

No matter how difficult it may be at times, we must look underneath all the surface wrappings and trappings so that everyone's essential desire for the Love of G-d is encouraged and nourished. Consider that most of the things we experience in our daily lives wont matter or even be remembered this time next year, or the year after. It is our relationship with HaShem and our Love for our fellow beings that matters. Love can have long lasting results. Seeing the good in others promotes love. Seeing the worst destroys love. As Rebbe Nachman said: "It’s not hard to push people away. The real work is to draw them close and uplift them."

Let us have the kavanah to accept and to embrace while maintaining personal integrity. As Rav Kook said, "As there are enough people practicing rejection, I choose to be one who practices acceptance.

Based on a piece by Breslov Institute.

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