Parshas Acharei - Kedoshim

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

This Shabbos is the Shabbos before Lag BaOmer, the culmination of a thirty three-day period when the students of Rabbi Akiva perished for not having ample respect for each other. It is therefore no surprise that the parsha this week talks about “loving your neighbor like yourself.” Rabbi Yissocher Frand addresses this idea in his weekly parsha
shiur as follows:

The above mentioned posuk ends with the famous phrase, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am Hashem.” This is the positive biblical command of Ahavas Yisroel (loving a fellow Jew). The Ramban shares a startling insight on this commandment: “This expression (loving your friend LIKE YOURSELF) is an exaggeration!” The Ramban posits
that it is simply impossible to expect anyone to love someone else as much as he loves himself. If anything, perhaps it could be said that we love our spouses and our children as much as we love ourselves, but to expect that one might love his neighbor as much as he loves himself is very unrealistic. It is simply beyond man’s capacity to achieve that level of altruism. So how does the Ramban understand this mitzvah?

The Ramban suggests that the essence of the commandment is that a person should want his friend to have things as good as he himself has them. The Ramban says there are many times when people want good for their friends and they are generous of spirit but just not EVERYTHING. “I can live with the fact that you have as much money as me, but I cannot live with the fact that you are smarter than me!” or “I can live with the fact that you have as much money as me and that you are smarter than me, but I can’t live with the
fact that your children are better than mine!” “In at least some area, I want to be better than you!” This, says the Ramban, is what the Torah is teaching us here. We are commanded to suppress any such resentfulness of spirit and should in no way nurture such selfish egotism in our hearts.

The Ramban asks: How does one reach this level that he wants for his friend as much as he has for himself? The Ramban answers that he must remove the unseemly attribute of jealousy from his heart. Of course, not being jealous is easier said than done. One of the most basic of all human feelings is envy. So what is this “easy formula” that the Ramban is offering? Getting rid of envy is a great idea but how do I accomplish that?

In my humble opinion, there is only one way to rid oneself of the natural tendency to be envious, and that is to become a believer – to become a maamin, a believer in the concept of hashgochoh protis (personal Divine Providence). We need to internalize the belief that the Ribono shel Olom gives each and every single one of us exactly what we need to function in this world in order to fulfill our mission in this world. What we don’t have, we don’t need!

Therefore, I have no problem if my friend drives a better car than I do. I don’t need that car. I have no problem if my friend makes a lot more money than I do. I don’t need that
much money. I believe with a complete belief (Ani ma’amin b’emunoh shleimoh…) that everything I have in this world is what I need – nothing less and nothing more. This is
how a person removes jealousy from his heart.

Admittedly, coming to this level is not so simple. But that is the approach one must take in order to move in that direction. It is the only approach. We need to fully believe that the Almighty is keenly aware of who I am and what I need and He has given me everything that I do need and that I do not need anything else. Therefore, I am completely content if somebody else lives in a much nicer house than I do. I do not need that house. G-d knows what is good for me. This is how one rids himself of the attribute of envy.

As Lag BaOmer approaches we can all work on creating a caring and loving relationship with our family and friends by always looking at events and happenings through the
prism of emunoh. By improving in our interpersonal relationships, we are sure to bring the Geuloh, the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman