Let’s Treat each other with Respect and Honor
Dani Yemini, CEO
The opening paragraph of Parshat Bechukotei enumerates the blessings that Hashem will bestow on our people provided we observe the mitzvot properly. In connection with the pursuit of our enemies, the Torah tells us:
“And five of you will chase one hundred,” i.e. the equivalent of one will pursue 20, and “one hundred will chase ten thousand,” i.e. the equivalent of one will pursue 100. What lesson is the Torah teaching us with these equivalents?
Rashi interprets these verses as referring to those who are engaged in the study of Torah and explains that the power of the individual is far greater when he is part of a larger group. The larger the group the greater by far is his religious standing and influence.
During these days, between Pesach and Shavuot, some 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva were killed, as is described in Talmud Yevamot 62b: “Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousands pairs of students … and all of them died during one period, because they did not treat each other with honor.”
According to Rashi’s interpretation, one would have thought that the study of Torah by a group of tens of thousands should have provided each of them with almost unlimited power and religious privileges. However, this large group of students of the Torah was destined to die.
We see, therefore, that in addition to being engaged in Torah study, a person is obligated in all the mitzvot including those which relate to treating his fellow man with honor and respect. Rabbi Akiva said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah.”
The Midrash goes on to tell us that after the death of his students, Rabbi Akiva started to teach again with seven students only who eventually “filled all Eretz – Israel with Torah .” (Bereshit Rabah 65, 3 .)
We can apply the lesson learned from Rashi and the story of Rabbi Akiva to the present. Following the destruction of the ‘world of Torah’ during the Holocaust, the Jewish community has been witness to the revival of Torah studies throughout the world, especially here in Israel. An integral part of the Torah curriculum in many yeshivot today is the importance of respecting one’s neighbor.
Kav L’Noar’s goal is to help build strong and happy families by promoting the understanding that mutual honor and respect are essential building blocks for lasting relationships and communities.