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Loving Your Neighbor Even When It's Hard

May 11, 2022 Mishkan Chicago
Contact Chai
Loving Your Neighbor Even When It's Hard
Show Notes Transcript

A lot of us are (correctly!) furious about the right-wing attack on our bodily autonomy.  In fact, Mishkan is joining the march this Saturday in support of abortion rights. Yet the same Torah and tradition which inspire us to march for reproductive justice also demand that we never harm anyone — not even our enemies, and not even emotionally! So how do we love a neighbor who doesn't return the favor? Rabbi Deena drops the drash.

Today's episode is sponsored by Broadway In Chicago. Tickets are available now to Fiddler on the Roof at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, from May 17th - 22nd. Use Mishkan's special offer code ROOF45 for $45 Middle Balcony tickets.

This message was originally delivered at the  Saturday Morning Shabbat service on May 6th.  For upcoming Shabbat services and programs, check our event calendar, and see our Accessibility & Inclusion page for information about our venues. Follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook for more updates.

Produced by Mishkan Chicago. Music composed, produced, and performed by Kalman Strauss.

Maybe you didn't catch it went by quickly, we read the most important part of the entire Torah today. That's not my claim. That's Rebbi Akiva is claim who says the line "V'Ahavta Lereiacha Kamocha"? Love your neighbor as yourself. The Torah that is a great the great principle of the Torah does another story about these lines in which a person who is sort of like, maybe considering becoming Jewish comes to Rebbi Hillel and he says Hillel teach me all of the Torah while I stand on one foot. If you're good balanced, this isn't a challenge. But if you're a little balance challenge, it's a little harder. And Hillel says that which is hateful to you don't do to the fellow. That's it. The rest is commentary. Go learn it. Hillel was quoting from this week's parsha which says that which is hateful to you don't do to your fellow you can rebuke them. But don't do something that you would hate if it happened to you back to them. And then it says via half Stellaria como I love your neighbor, your fellow as yourself. So I want to pose the question to you and invite you to turn to someone near you and ask why. Of all of the things in the Torah, many of which are beautiful, and we get 40 some mentions of Shabbat. Why is this? Verses 17? And 18? Leviticus 19 versus 17 and 18? It is if you're still holding your homage pages 696 on the 697 Why is this the most important set of verses in the entire Torah? According to two rabbis who are way more famous and wise than me? Okay, so turn to someone near you take a few minutes, verses 17 and 18. What did they say? And why is this the most important thing in the entire Torah? Okay. All right. Hello Teesnap Nike, what do you think?

Your brother stay aware. Sorry, I'm trying to be present to give constructive feedback as to your people, although it is also a different word, by the way this is

because of that, maybe because of the use of insurance or takeovers, topics, do not take the notes do not fear and fear about like yourself, third time you know, how to relate to

God? Think learning us can be pretty well, you know, understanding and instead of saying, Let me tell you how it is

that, that's that talked about earlier

that we're doing together talking about something. This is the right way to do it. I would be more inclined to be interested. And I have so many things I have my gosh, I couldn't do it at all because

I did it wrong. properly. And I'm happy that second time and pass it on to you. That's fine. I mean, that also reminds me a little bit. All right.

What do we got? Why is rabbis of the people who are at Mishcon this morning? Rabbi just means great one, by the way. Anyone have thoughts on why these verses? What's so important about these particularly? The whole essence of the Torah is this. Elliot looks like you're being voluntold to share your thoughts.

As a sort of like how to keep Judaism and Jewish people alive and flourishing sort of built in interdependence. We cannot do this.

Love that. So it's a how to keep Judaism alive and flourishing and a recognition of our interdependence that we can't do this by ourselves. I'm just repeating it for the sake of people who are on camera. Not only. Great, great. So at least noting that the word array of five doesn't just mean fellow Jews, it means everyone and humanity we are beholden not just to our particular community, but to all other human beings of all shapes and sizes and colors and stripes and backgrounds and wherever they are. Great. Love that. One or two more thoughts on why these verses? Verse 17? Uh huh.

It makes it it's okay to be in conflict with other people. It's okay to say like, I don't think you're doing a good thing and I'm going to tell you about it, but it's not okay to sort of like, get sucked into hatred of that person. And like, violent attitudes

toward great so Lilia, saying it's okay to be in conflict. It's okay to disagree with each other and call that out. It's not okay to do it in a way that is hateful or to hate that person, because you disagree with them. Amazing. Anything else? Abby, you look like you have something wise to say. I was thinking about this. It wasn't mentioned. going to be talking about amazing. So Abby's noting that this verse, these two verses actually don't mention God until the very end when it just says I'm God. Right. And so the way that we honor God is by honoring each other. It's a little bit of what Daniel was saying as well. Okay, Frank. Say more. Seeking the correct word mazing. So Frank is noting that in labor law, which Frank knows a lot about, if any of you are interested, this ethos of we want to engage in corrective behavior, not punitive behavior is what's so important that anything that becomes punitive, doesn't stand in the labor court. Corrective Action is fine, right as good we want to be doing that reminds me of what we talked about every year around the holidays, that the word for sin aid is also used in archery for an arrow that goes off course, right. So the idea being that our actions are things that we're aiming towards an idea of holiness, like Daniel talked about, but sometimes we go off course. And so the recourse for that is to try again, to bring it back towards what you were aiming for. Amazing. Thank you all for your thoughts. If you have other ones, I'd love to hear them at kiddish. I want to note a couple of things about oh, we do we have another thought someone's pointing me towards someone else has something. Okay. Yes.

Yeah, that. It indicates to you that if you show love for others, you show love for yourself. And you, if you show love for yourself, you realize, maybe you're like, wait a second is more than love your neighbor. So you increase your love for the neighbor. And what happened is that it is essential. That is a vocalist. You know, both of the individual and therefore the community

life cycle. Yeah, so at least noting that when you when it says Love your neighbor as yourself, you have to oftentimes realize, I love myself more than I love you like I I'm, when it comes down to it, I'm going to take that corner piece of cake, unless it's your birthday in which I'm going to begrudgingly offer it to you, right. And so that helps us check in with like, oh, I guess I don't love my neighbor enough. So then we love our neighbor more. But then we're always going to look out for number one. So we're going to start loving ourselves a little more, and then it's going to catch up. Right? And so it's a way to actually increase the love in the world. I love that. Okay, so I want to make just like a couple sort of want to draw a few like little crystals out of this. The first is that both Rebbi Akiva and Rabhi and Hillel, they're talking about what seems like the same thing, but it's actually two different laws. One is don't do something hateful to someone else. Write one law is if it's bad for you, don't do it to them separately. Love them the way you love yourself. Those are not just two ways of framing the same thing. I think they're really teaching us two different things. The first one is teaching us to do no harm. Right? As Lilia said, to engage someone in a process of growth, to engage them in a process of corrective action, but not to do them something that would cause them any harm. No matter how forcefully you disagree with them, you cannot do something that will hurt another person emotionally, physically, spiritually, no matter what, right? That is a cloud Gadelha Torah, you can never cross a line in which you engage in hurtful behavior. The second commandment to love someone, the way that you love yourself is just as Ali was saying, to create the world that you want to live in for them. The ways that you want to be treated well go back and do that to them, too, to think about what matters most to you. But not just to do exactly that right? Loving, I gave a draft about love a few months ago, you have to figure out what makes someone else feel loved. So you have to think about the feelings that you experience as being loved. And then get to know that other person intimately enough to figure out how to make them feel that right, I talked about love languages, if your love language is gifts, but someone else isn't, you can't just give them gifts, because you would like them. That's loving yourself. You have to figure out what's going to make them feel loved. And then you have to do that for them, you have to create a world that gives them that environment. So as with any big event that happens in the United States in the world news, I'm finding it very hard to read these verses without thinking about the news that came out of the Supreme Court this week, that the Supreme Court stands poised to overrule, to reverse the ruling on Roe vs. Wade. And I'm finding it very hard to stomach the idea that they're gonna gut more than nearly half a century of basic rights. Like in a moment. And it's about pregnancy. But it's also about all sorts of other rights to privacy and self determination that are being taken away from us. And by us, I mean, yes, people who have the biological ability to give birth, but also an us who includes anyone who has been marginalized and oppressed, because that is what this is about, is taking away power from people who have slowly been gaining it. Right. And as Justice Alito wrote, like literally pushing us back to a time where those rights didn't exist for everyone. So last year, Rabbi, not last year, couple months ago, February, February. In the year 2042, BC, Rabbi Lizzi gave a draft about how abortion access and all medical access is a Jewish issue. And if you are curious about that reasoning, and about why, more than almost anything else, the Jewish community stands united and its commitment to ensuring abortion access for people, I encourage you to check out her Drash. That's not really what I'm talking about tonight, what I want to do is bring us to how these verses from our parsha help us respond to this moment. So these two commandments, to do no harm. And to actively create a world that loves other people. They're linked by proximity in the Torah, but they're also linked somatically in the ways that they teach us to interact with people who are hard to be with and easy to be with. I am very angry, and I am horrified. And I'm devastated. And I'm disgusted. Like, I'm so many feelings. And

I will admit, I have done more than a little bit of doom scrolling the last week. And I have found myself like angry chuckling at a couple of memes that say mean things about the people who are pushing for this change. But that is not as Daniel taught us earlier the way towards holiness. It is not what the Torah is asking of us. It might feel good to me in the moment, but it's not creating anything positive for me or anyone else. That's not the kind of holy action that our parsha is telling us when it says any other night be like me, be holy. So instead, I'm trying to put these verses into action together. I'm trying to find ways as Lilia said to call out hateful speech, not by returning it with hateful speech, but by saying how else can we have this conversation? That is hateful to me. You are causing me pain with the ways that you are talking and with the things that you are doing? Right the phrase whole whole half topia, you will surely rebuke the other person tells us that we cannot put our hands over our ears. We can't enter our own little bubble. We can't say to ourselves, Illinois protects abortion access. So actually, I don't need to be that worried and I'm going to just like poop It teaches us not to say something snarky or mean and return to something snarky or mean. It teaches us that taking revenge is not going to move anyone anywhere, emotionally, physically, spiritually, politically, legally. Revenge is not our answer here. mean spirited actions are not the kind of holy behavior that I want to engage in. What I am doing is pushing back on that hateful speech and also doing things that create more love in the world, like donating, donating to abortion access funds, and calling my local and federal politicians and saying, I want you to support greater legal access to this, I want you to support policies that will enact this into law so that it doesn't have to be a question. I'm donating to things like lactation consultants, and doulas and encouraging my elected officials to support paid parental leave for everybody, and to support greater access to fertility treatments. Because all of these things are the kind of loving world that makes parenting becoming a person who creates another human who welcomes another human into their life. These create the kind of world that is full of love, that I want to live in. And I don't know what someone else needs. But I do know that someone needs those things. These feel to me like actions of love, not just because they create a world of love that I want. But because I can think of people I know in this community and in my life, who need all of those things, who need diapers that they can't afford, who need access to fertility treatments that they can't afford, who need I know people who have children who need a good and loving home. And I know people who have welcomed children that need a good and loving home into theirs. These are the things that I do out of love because I love people who need them. And that in return increases my own love for myself, my community each other. We can build a world that supports all of these decisions, the ability of birthing people, and people who want to be parents to access that way to give of themselves right being a parent is an act of love. We can create a world that has more love that loves our fellow as ourself by making sure that that is possible, and that the person who makes the decision about that is the person who will be impacted by it. And then we can hope that they will also listen to the Torah and that they will do the same for us that they will also be building a world that supports our ability to make decisions about the kind of love that we create and give to others. Shabbat shalom. Shabbat shalom.

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