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Shabbat Parashat Bereishit | 5770
Ein Ayah:Things That Delay Redemption
(based on Berachot 2:59)
Gemara: The rabbis of Yavneh had a favorite statement: I am a living creature, and my friend is a living creature. My work is in the city, and his work is in the field. I wake up early for my work, and he wakes up early for his work. Just as he does not encroach on my work, I do not encroach on his work. Maybe you will say that I have a lot and he has little? We have learned: whether one does a lot or does a little, the main thing is that he should direct his heart to the Heaven.
Ein Ayah: There are many specific reasons why true love between friends is so often lacking. However, the basic reason is that love of oneself overruns all boundaries. It comes from a misunderstanding. In regard to feelings, one feels only himself, and he does not use his intellect to realize that the conditions of his existence and that of others are essentially the same.
The following are ideas that a person should consider, which will automatically bring love of other people into his heart.
1) In regard to the basis of life, the love of life, and one’s basic needs, there is no difference between him and others. Even if there are major differences regarding their respective levels of wisdom and other things, this does not affect the basic desire for life and the right to live.
2) The differences between people’s levels are not intrinsic, which would cause them to have greatly different emotions; rather, these differences are external.
This is why the statement says that the subject and his counterparts are both living things. The fact that one works in the city and one works in the field is not a reason to detract from each one’s right to live.
3) One feels his advantages and disadvantages according to his own situation. He must imagine how these advantages and disadvantages exist in every situation, so that everyone can bring benefit to the world according to his circumstances. That is why they would say that "I wake up early for my work" and he does for his.
4) A person is apt to notice that his friend does not share many of the positive attributes that he feels he possesses. Reuven should consider that Shimon has attributes, according to Shimon's situation, that Reuven does not possess. For example, while his friend may lack wisdom, he may possess generosity. That is referred to by the matter of not infringing on each other's work. He does not pretend to be able to do the things that I can, and so I should not think that I can accomplish what he does.
The only thing left that would make a person feel that he is superior to his friend is in that he might think that he does more of that which is important in Hashem’s eyes. He may think that he does more and the other does less. However, this is foolishness because that which is important to Hashem is the completeness and purity of the heart. In this regard, no one can know what is in his friend’s heart. There are times when, according to his level, intellect, and situation, his friend’s heart is very good in Hashem’s eyes because he reached his potential and the “objectively more complete” person may not have fulfilled the obligations that come with his potential. That is what it means: “whether one does a lot or a little, the main thing is that he should direct his heart to the Heaven.” The main thing is up to the heart, and that is hidden from mankind. Therefore, every person, including one who is great in wisdom and in honor, should view others as people on his level, who are fitting to be truly loved and respected.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.