11 Shvat 5781 / Sunday, January 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Beshalah
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Save the Home, Save the World    

Save the Home, Save the World

The key to true freedom, to true happiness, and true redemption, is only through working on ourselves.


Internal Freedom 


The key to true freedom, to true happiness, and true redemption, is only through working on ourselves. 


The Jewish nation left Egypt during the holiday of Passover, but what value does physical and external freedom have without inner freedom? Therefore, Hashem gave us the days of Sefirat Haomer, counting the days of the Omer, so that through them the Jewish people purified themselves and made themselves holy by working on their character traits. They fixed one trait at a time, until they were prepared and fit to receive of the Torah on the 50th day. On that day, through receiving the Torah, they merited to become truly free people, as our Sages say “The only truly free person is the one who is occupied with Torah study.” 


Hence, we see that it is not enough to be involved in learning the Torah, but rather we are obligated to have proper preparation. The light of the Torah requires a vessel to hold it. Preparation creates and determines the size of the vessel that enables us to truly receive the light of the Torah. 


And what is this preparation? Working on ourselves, step by step, by working on and improving our character traits.  


This work expresses itself mainly in areas between man and his fellow. That is why the days of Sefirah are also days of mourning the students of Rabbi Akiva. They were punished because they did not act with enough respect towards each other, in accordance with their great righteousness. All this teaches us that the true preparation for receiving the Torah is being extremely careful to treat other people properly. 


This is not only preparation to receive the Torah, but also the preparation for proper prayer as well. That is why the holy Arizal teaches that before a person prays, he should accept on himself the positive mitzvah of “veahavta l’reacha k’mocha,” to love your fellow Jew like yourself.  


Start at Home 


In the last article, we discussed that someone who works on himself will not be broken by difficulties and even crisis. Not only that it doesn’t break them, but they even come out from the crisis stronger in both body and soul, with peace in the home, and with their money, faith and trust in G-d intact. 


During the quarantine and isolation of the corona crisis, we are indeed dealing much less with people outside, and therefore there are less tests of dealing with other people properly outside of the house. However, we have many more tests inside the house than we ever had before! Living in close quarters with our spouse and children with virtually no break creates a constant friction which doesn’t exist during normal times. This creates a great need for us to put significant energy into improving our character traits.  


The fact that this situation was thrust on us during the counting of the Omer is an important reminder from the Creator of the World that working on our character begins at home. The commandments revolving around the way we treat others, and loving others like ourselves, start first and foremost with our immediate family! After all, your wife is also “your fellow Jew” and your husband is “your fellow Jew” too. 


Selective Consciousness 


A spouse is not “just as” important than someone from outside the house, rather they are much, much more important! There are those that feel bad if they were insensitive or mean to a coworker but when it comes to their wife or children, they have absolutely no hesitation or qualms about it. 


However, it should be only “all the more so”:  If you feel bad if you mistreat a friend or colleague to whom you have no obligations at all, or only minimally, then all the more so you should feel terrible if you are to hurt your wife who gives her whole life to you, and does countless favors for your each and every moment, or to the children whom belong to Creator of the World, and are a precious gift that the Creator entrusted in your hands to raise and not to destroy. 


The mitzvah of loving your fellow is a “great principle of the Torah.” One who fulfills it, fulfills a guiding principle which encompasses and includes the entire Torah! 


The great Sages of Israel teach that perfecting “loving your fellow as yourself” is possible only with your spouse. Achieving this level is absolutely impossible to accomplish without both spouses constantly working on themselves. We see from this, that through working on ourselves we come to fulfill the Torah in the deepest and fullest way. 


Sustaining the World 


You must learn how to work on yourself every day in your personal prayer (for more on that, see my article Daily Work). However, remember that the first job you have in your personal work is your character traits. You must fix yourself so that you are only good towards your spouse, and G-d forbid not to be cruel, shout, insult, or fight with them. This is a sensitive time for everyone. 


We all need to judge each other favorably and arm ourselves with a lot of patience. Prepare yourself to be calming, ready to listen, and always ready to help. As my master and teacher Rabbi Yehuda Zev Lebovitch zt”l said: “Be compassionate, let go, help, and the main thing is not to yell at any Jew.” Your spouse is also a Jew.  


Now that you find yourselves together in the house more, this is the time to just give to one another. This is the time to overcome our anger. This is the time to hold your tongue in an argument. Our sages say that the entire world stands in the merit of one who keeps their mouth shut during a fight.  


Now that the world needs so much Heavenly compassion, each one of us can draw mercy down to the world through having compassion on each other, not letting ourselves get dragged into a fight, and certainly not to raise our voice.  


Let us increase love between ourselves, and let us increase the Divine Presence in our homes and in the entire world. Hashem should enable us to get through this period by working on ourselves, and thus achieve happiness and peace in the home. Hashem should enable us to prepare ourselves properly for Shavuot and receiving the Torah anew, and thus we will sweeten the judgements from upon the entire world, and Hashem will send a full recovery and great abundance to everyone.  



Watch Rabbi Arush's video with a special message about the Coronavirus.

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