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"To Get Respect, Give Respect!"

03/05/2020 02:01:41 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

In Pirkei Avot, we read: "He (Ben Azzai) used to say: 'Do not be scornful of any person, and do not be disdainful of anything, for you have no person without his hour, and you have no thing without its place.'"  (Avot 4:3)  What we are being told here is that one must never insult people either verbally or in any other way.  Even if we consider the other person to be inferior to us in every way, s/he must be treated with respect, regardless of whether or not we know why this person is the way s/he is.  The key to interpersonal relationships is to place ourselves in our friend's shoes see things from his/her perspective.  For example, when your boss loses his/her temper and raises his/her voice at you for not meeting a required deadline, stop for just a minute and try to understand the amount of pressure s/he is under before you get insulted and end up resenting him/her.  Perhaps, just perhaps, you will realize that put in that same position, you just might act in the same way?

In this week's parashah, Parshat Tetzaveh, we read about the "Me'il" (mantle) worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) when he was in active service to Hashem.  Attached to the bottom of the Me'il were no fewer than 72 ornaments in the shape of pomegranates alternating with 72 golden bells.  Why the bells?  Whenever the Kohen Gadol went into the Kodesh HaKedoshim (Holy of Holies) which contained the Aron HaKodesh (the Ark of the Covenant) in the Mishkan (Wilderness Tabernacle) and later in both of the Temples in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), the sound of the bells would announce both his coming and going causing the people to stop and pay attention to his actions.  We learn from this that a person should not enter his/her own home in a stealthy manner: unexpectedly and unannounced.  By not doing this, sensitivity and respect is shown the home's occupants.

Why show sensitivity and respect to the members of one's own family upon arrival at home?  Because this can raise their spirits and affect their lives in a profoundly positive way.  Such a demeanor gives evidence that we love others as much as we love ourselves.  Perhaps the lesson to be learned here comes from the words that used to be the on the outgoing message of the answering machine of one of CSS's beloved late members, Stanley Smuckler, zichrono livrachah (may his memory be for a blessing): "Although it's nice to be important, it's more important to be nice!" 

Fri, July 3 2020 11 Tammuz 5780