Parasha: Ki Teitzei (2023)

Connection, love and acceptance.

One of the most important values of Judaism is “Ve’ahavta L’reacha Kamocha” – “Love your fellow as yourself.”

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698 – 1760) once said, that this love, could be the whole purpose of our entire life. In his words: “A soul enters this world for seventy or eighty years just to do a favour for another.”

We aren’t just a nation made up of different individuals, we are a single soul shining into many bodies, connecting them as one.

A healthy body is one where every body part works together. A healthy Jewish people is one big, caring family where everyone loves the other like his or her own self. Where one Jew faces rough times, and the others hold his hands. Where one meets good fortune and all of us celebrate. Where no one is labelled or alienated for his or her beliefs, behaviours or background. Where each runs, to do an act of kindness for the other, and shuts his eyes and ears to the other’s shame.

This is indeed the 3rd level of Teshuva hinted in the 3rd letter of the Hebrew word תשובה, the letter “vov”.
This letter “vov” is also the first letter of the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”

One Yom Kippur eve Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745 -1812) took his place in the synagogue, put on his tallis, and began his preparations for the Kol Nidrei prayers. Suddenly he stopped, removed his tallis, and left the synagogue.

He walked to the end of the town and entered a dilapidated cottage, where a young mother was lying with her newborn child. He chopped wood, made a fire to warm the house and prepared her some soup. Only when he was sure that she had everything she needed did he return to the synagogue.

Now, there were other people in the synagogue at that time. Nevertheless, Rabbi Schneur Zalman did not instruct someone else to help the woman, he went to help her himself. He did this when he was deep in meditation before prayer on the holiest day of the year. At that time, too, he was sensitive to her distress.

Here are some ideas we can implement:

Care for your fellow Jew’s property and possessions as we care for our own.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to do another Jew a favour.

Bring Jewish people together, regardless of their age, affiliation and ethnicity.

Invite other Jews to share in the most precious thing we have, our Torah and mitzvot.

Shabbat shalom