I’m calling this one the Love and Respect Challah! Rye, Spelt and Whole Wheat living together in harmony. And don’t they just look lovely together? ;) In this week’s Torah reading we read the commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” which Rabbi Akiva famously said was “the crux of the entire Torah, all else is but commentary.” These weeks we also connect with Rabbi Akiva in another way. We are in the midst of the Omer counting, and during this period of time we mourn the deaths of the students of Rabbi Akiva. On the day of Lag B’Omer we recall the day that the plague—which tragically killed his 24,000 students—ceased. Our Sages tell us that the reason for this terrible devastation was that the students of Rabbi Akiva—he of the creed that “Love your neighbor is the entirety of the Torah"—were not able to get along. How is this possible?
We are told that while the students loved each other dearly, they did not respect one other. They each felt that the way they understood the Torah needed to be understood that way by all.
This sounds scarily familiar to me. I often find myself getting stuck, believing that the way I'm doing something is the only way to do it. This prevents me from delegating, from sharing, from experiencing another point of view. I want to use this lesson of Rabbi Akiva's students to allow more opinions, more flavors, into my life.
Multi-facets of a diamond catch more light. More facets equals more sparkle. I know this is how life can look if we allow ourselves to see things from an others perspective.
Far from creating dichotomy—adding in the gifts that each person's point of view brings—will bring more light, color and harmony into the world.
Before the Sh'ma each day we say these beautiful words. The angels above glorify Hashem’s name by “lovingly giving permission— each angel to the other—to sanctify Hashem’s name. . . and then they all proclaim in one voice ‘kadosh, kadosh, kadosh’ holy, holy, holy." This week’s and last week's portions are all about respecting boundaries, and how that respect creates a space of holiness.
Rabbi Akiva’s students had plenty of love but not quite enough respect for another.
While love is beautiful, and essential - respect is what makes a person feel seen, acknowledged, real.
Without respect a relationship cannot survive. To respect another is to acknowledge that we all have different ways of doing things. And while my way may be valid for me, that doesn’t negate the way that you do it, even though it may be an entirely different approach. Let's each find our own voice, our own song, and allow ourselves to listen for the other's voice. And then we walk side by side, creating the most gorgeous symphony, all proclaiming as one, “holy, holy, holy.”