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"What You Need Is Love!"

04/29/2020 03:48:21 PM


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

In this week’s combined parshiyot of Acharei Mot – Kedoshim, we read the following words: “…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am HaShem!” (VaYikra 19:17) Rabbi Akiva declared this to be the main principle of the Torah. I am reminded of the Beatle song “All You Need Is Love” and how this seemed to be the “main principle” of the “Young Generation” of that time with the sincere hope that “love indeed conquers all.” But the question that can be asked is to what type of love is this mitzvah (commandment) of the Torah referring. If your love of other people is based solely on your feelings, a major problem can develop. And is that major problem? Simply this: one day you might feel very positive about someone, and the next day you might feel the exact opposite. It is because HaShem has commanded us to love others that we must develop the ability to both have and show positive attitudes towards others. How do we do this? By focusing on the virtues that others have. I offer the following for your consideration:


Rabbi Nosson Scherman tells the story about how Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, z’l, used to recite Tehillim (Psalms) in his yeshiva on Shabbat afternoons. On one particular Shabbat, a mildly retarded boy was watching Rav Moshe as he recited Tehillim. The boy got up and went over and turned Rav Moshe’s volume of Tehillim 90 degrees to the right. Rav Moshe kept reciting Tehillim. The boy then turned the volume through its original position and stopped at 90 degrees to the left. Again, Rav Moshe kept reciting Tehillim. The boy then took the volume and turned it completely upside down toward Rav Moshe, and he still kept reciting Tehillim. The Rosh HaYeshiva seemed completely unphased as to what the boy was doing. But not so with one man who, along with all the other men in the room, had been watching what was going on. He decided he had seen too much of the boy’s antics and he reacted quite crossly and said this to the boy: “Stop it already! Let the Rosh HaYeshiva alone!” Rav Moshe immediately stopped reciting Tehillim, looked up, and said this to the man who had reprimanded the boy: “He is only playing with me. I enjoy it when he plays with me. I love him like my own child.” And with that, Rav Moshe embraced and kissed the boy.


You will find the words of this mitzvah at the beginning of the Shacharit service of any traditional siddur as reminder of the importance of this mitzvah. But while it is easy to recite these words as you begin your daily prayers, it is more difficult to feel this way in your heart. So how can you put this mitzvah into action? How can you make it a very part of your being? By always being on the lookout for gemillut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness) that you can do for other people, especially those whom you may not like or appreciate. By searching for them, you will find things to do and words to say that will touch their hearts and souls. Yes, this is a challenge. It is an everyday challenge. But it is a challenge each one of us must take up and run with. Why? Because it is the cornerstone of the Torah!

Fri, July 3 2020 11 Tammuz 5780