21 Iyar 5779 / Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bamidbar
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Restoring Harmony    

Restoring Harmony

Just as no two people have the same fingerprints or look exactly alike, no two human beings have the same opinions at all times. We cannot impose our views on others...


If you believe you can destroy, believe you can fix (Likutei Moharan 2:112)
Almost since the beginning of creation, sibling rivalry has been rearing its ugly head. Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel, and killed him (Genesis 4:2-10), the first instance of murder in the world. Most civilized people today would never go this far in their rebellion against a brother or sister, but sadly the disdain is more prevalent than one would like to admit. In so many families, we hear of brothers and/or sisters who are not only at each others throats, but have little or no contact with each other. Even worse, there are grown children who do not speak to parents simply because they are holding a grudge of one kind or another. The hurt runs deep. If, thank G-d, you do not fit into any of these scenarios, chances are you know someone who does.
All of these family feuds are wrong on so many levels. Firstly, it creates a whole compendium of lashon hora (tale bearing). This in itself is a sin as we learn that lashon hora is a worse offense than murder. Our Sages tell us that the transgressions of slander, tale bearing and evil talk are more serious than the three major sins of murder, adultery and idol worship, so in reality we are right down there with good old Cain. Is it really worth being cut off from Olam Habah, the World to Come, just to placate our arrogance and our need to be right?
Failure to get along with and being resentful of a family member is a straightforward case of Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) tells us that Sinat Chinam destroyed the Second Temple. According to the Gemora, Tractate Yevamot (62b) it was also the cause of the deaths of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 talmidim (students). Their fatal failure was the lack of respect towards one another. We may not have a Temple to destroy today, but we are surely preventing the new one from being rebuilt! Why would HaShem want to redeem a People who are not only fighting against their enemies but between themselves and more inexcusably, within their own families? G-d desires that we are united. On Sukkot, we celebrate unity through the mitzvah of the four species, Lulav and Etrog which represents the coming together of all types of Jews. We are also told to Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). If this pertains to strangers, how much more so should we apply it to our own friends and relatives?
Just as charity begins at home, so too must achieving peace. We can understand that there are a load of reasons why two related individuals may not see eye to eye and even have serious personality conflicts. They blame, accuse, dislike or mistrust to the point that they want nothing more to do with their next of kin. That must stop! We must put our differences aside and learn to show compassion, understanding and forgiveness towards those who are genealogically closest to us. We lost millions of our People, precious Neshamot (souls) in the Holocaust and now we are voluntarily throwing away our own family. It’s unconscionable! If HaShem blessed us with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, who are we to totally disregard them? Where is our appreciation? And to purposely spurn the love of a parent is to rebuff G-d Himself, chas v’shalom. We are instructed to honor our parents as stated in Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother as the L-rd your G-d has commanded you”. This may not always be easy, but unless they tell us to desecrate Torah, we are obligated to do so.
We, as individuals, have differing views on life and how to live it. It is said that just as no two people have the same fingerprints or look exactly alike, no two human beings have the same opinions at all times. We cannot impose our views on others, even if we believe them to be true. Rebuke will only distance us to the point of no return. The best bet is to be an example of kindness and compassion, smile and let the tensions turn to calm, slowly filtering in a bit of light. Remember that we can’t change others, but we can change how we react to them. Rebbe Nachman, of blessed memory, taught that criticizing others, giving them an unwelcome feeling can be done by anyone. Uplifting them and giving them a good feeling – that takes a special gift and spending effort.
In tandem with our sincere attempts at bringing peace to our relationships, we must call out to G-d for Divine assistance. Like any other situation, we cannot go it alone without His guiding Hand. He is our strength and our success. By genuinely trying to unite with each other in brotherly love we will grow closer to Hashem, the Father of all mankind and tip the scales in our favor. Perhaps your initiative in attaining harmony with your sister is that final act needed to bring Moshiach. What are you waiting for? Take the leap, swallow your pride and pick up the phone. There is no better time than now.

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