Loving My People Is Worth the Effort
Reposted with thanks to Sh’ma Now and The Forward
In the abstract, love is about as good as it gets. Yet Jewish wisdom seems to know just how hard it is to love, how inclined we are to move in the opposite direction.
In the book of Leviticus, we learn: “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart.” (19:17) The Torah seems to understand that each of us will find some people so challenging that we will be inclined to harbor the deepest of ill will toward them. The verse continues: “Reprove your kinsman, but/and incur no guilt because of him.” The Torah, again, recognizes that we are often so agitated by our fellows that we feel compelled to point out their bad behavior, irritating attitudes and outright objectionableness. The second half of the verse offers instruction on how to vent one’s spleen: Call it as you see it, but do so in a way that doesn’t make you as loathsome as that boor you are chastising.
And then, the Torah continues: “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” If ever there were words to live by today, these are the words. And yet, today I find that loving the people Israel — particularly some individuals — is a truly challenging proposition.