Friday, February 3, 2012
Is it time to finally listen to the Sages of Old?
In the time of the beginning of the Modern Era, The Great Sage, Rabbi Hillel said “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Akiva said "Love your neighbor as you love yourself"; and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in the 20th Century said " "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement".
We ask, what is this movement? Could it be that the movement should be to care for others as we do ourselves?
In Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and again in Deuteronomy 11:13-21, we are commanded by G-d to love Him with all of our heart, might and soul. This was commanded on all of mankind.
Do these rules not still apply? Do the words of Hillel and Akiva from 2100 years ago not still apply?? How about the words of Heschel, spoken just a few decades ago??? How about if I throw in, just for good measure, the words of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who was quoted as saying "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others'?"
According to the Sages above, should we not Love G-d with all our hearts, souls and might? Should we not love each other as we do ourselves? Should we not take it upon ourselves do protect our own (human race)? And finally, should we not do for others???
One thing I can say with veritable certainty is that if WE were the "Others", we would absolutely hope and pray that mankind would help US.
The problem today, friends, is that we don't. We are too concerned with our own luxury car payments and huge mortgages; with paying our credit card bills that we ran up buying things that we could not afford; and most of all, we are too concerned with "others". Not with helping them, but with "equalling them". Keeping up with the Jones's, or the Berkowitz's, or the Al-Masri's.
In about two months, we will remember the Passover; the Exodus from Egypt when we were liberated from Pharaoh's slavery. We sit around our Seder tables and sing "Dayyenu", it was enough to be liberated; it was enough to receive Torah; Dayyenu, it was enough. But was it?
Are we not still slaves? Are we not slaves to our jobs; our large mortgages, our BMW payments?
What if we were to do an experiment, just for this weekend: From the beginning of Shabbat, at sundown this evening, let us think not about ourselves, but about others. Whether we are on our way to Synagogue, or the golf course; the mall or ball field; the Superbowl party or Bat Mitzvah, let's take a split second to smile at an entirely random fellow person. Let's take a brief moment to think about what THEIR life might be about; what problems might THEY have; and just maybe, we will be able to see the meaning in the words of our Sages from long and not do long ago.
From the sunny Left Coast, I wish you Ahava u'Vrachot, Love and Blessings.
--Rabbi Alan Abrams