Tuesday, 10 June 2008
To Love a Fellow Jew? Just How Much?!
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV...
"Love every Jew... without difference. Whether a greatly righteous individual - a Tzaddik - or a learned scholar - a Talmid Chacham - or whether a simple person. Love them equally."
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE MAGGID OF MEZRITCH...
"Loving a fellow Jew does not only apply to loving simple Jews... but rather even to the wicked"
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ALTER REBBE...
"There is no such thing as a Tzaddik (a righteous) or a Rasha (wicked) Jew. One needs to love every Jew from "great" to "small" as if they were all one.
"LOVE YOUR FELLOW JEW AS YOURSELF" - Just like yourself!
Each of the Rebbes added something novel to the concept of loving another.
At the times of the Baal Shem Tov, those Jews who were unable to spend much time involved in learning were frowned upon. Many were considered fools. Many were indeed very simple. They gave of themselves in other ways. Perhaps not through the intricate arguments of Abaye and Rava. But they were completely Jewish in all respects - nonetheless!
The Baal Shem Tov taught the world the importance of loving even the "simple" Jew.
The Baal Shem Tov taught that Jews are the Tefillin of G-d. G-d also wears Tefillin. There are Tefillin that are placed on the head, and Tefillin on the arm. Both are needed.
The Tefillin on the arm on put on first! And only thereafter the Tefillin on the head.
The Tefillin on the arm are those Jews involved with Mitzvah observance. They may not be able to devote themselves wholly to the wisdom of Torah, but they are certainly involved in actual Mitzvah observance. Shabbos, Kashrus, Taharas HaMishpacha. Charity, Mezuzah, Tefillin and more...
The Tefillin on the head are those Jews who spend their days immersed in the wisdom of Torah. They too observe Mitzvot! Nevertheless their main occupation each day is the study of Torah.
But, before the Tefillin on the head are worn, the Tefillin on the arm must be put on. One cannot simply overlook them just because they seem more connected with physicality. They are no less important than the Tefillin on the head.
Perhaps those "Tefillin on the head" can learn much from those "Tefillin on the arm". The need to do far outweighs the need to learn - since "Action is the main thing!" Our learning is there to know what to do, but not as an end in and of itself. We must learn to know what to do, but learning with action is no different than a computer with unlimited hard drive space collecting meaningless "bits" of data, only to have them magnetised on a metal device - with the computer turned off!
The Baal Shem Tov taught the importance of respecting the simple Jew!
The Maggid of Mezritch made an addition. One day, the great Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lyzynsk came to the Maggid (while he was learning from him) and told him, "Do you hear what they are saying in the Yeshiva Above?
To love a fellow Jew is to love a completely evil person like one loves the completely righteous one!"
The Alter Rebbe - even after having written an entire work - the Tanya - teaching about the "differences" between the "Tzaddik" - the righteous person - and the "Beinoni" (or Rasha) - the Middle person (or even the wicked one) - still came along with a teaching more novel than either of his Rebbes:
"There is no such things as a Tzaddik or a Rasha" - "All Jews come from One Father. All Jews are from the exact same source."
Perhaps this is the message of Shavuot when all the Jewish people encamped *together* to receive the Torah in one unity. There was no difference amongst them all. They were simply all Jews. Jewish souls. Jewish sparks of Divinity. Divinity cannot be broken down. It cannot be made into greater parts and smaller parts. It simply is.