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Thought for the Day: Loving Every Jew by Knowing Yourself

There are lots of different kinds of nachas.  For example, one is the unbridled nachas from the unbridled joy and love expressed by your three year old granddaughter when she sees you enter the door and drops whatever she is doing to run full speed and calling at full volume, "ZEIDY!"  I cannot deny, I never tire of that greeting.

There is, however, a much deeper and satisfying nachas.  That comes when you see how they have incorporated the information and lessons from their environment and generating their own thoughts.  While they are young and have no preconceived opinions, the remarks they generate are perforce intellectually immature, but -- equally perforce -- more direct and precise.  They have no bias to sway them to one answer or another.  So I found the following vignette gave me a  whole new level of nachas:
Me: Bye, everyone.
Granddaughter, who is 6: Where are you going, Zeidy?
Me: mincha, then chavrusa, then ma'ariv
Grandson, age 5: Wow; you are busy.
Granddaughter (to her brother): Tzadikim are always busy.
Me: just thinking... ahh... how sweet
Grandson (to his sister): Just because you are busy doesn't make you a tzadik
Me: burst out laughing... thinking he is right on target
Of course he is right and of course there was no offence taken.  Why was no offence taken, though?  Because he is a little kid?  Oh... sure... I wish I was that emotionally mature.  No... its something different.

Near the end of the Chafeitz Chaim's essay on Torah loving every Jew he makes a sharp left turn.  Out of nowhere (it seemed to me), we are suddenly talking about the problem with people not realizing how much pure kindness they get from HaShem all the time.  I went back over the last few paragraphs a few times looking for a segway I had missed.  Nothing.  I had to conclude, therefore, that something was skewed in my perspective that was preventing me from seeing something that the Chafeitz Chaim found so obvious.

So I looked back and realized that the Chafeitz Chaim and concluded explaining how bad the sin of baseless hatred really is.  At this point, then, he is telling us the source of this very destructive feeling.  The source is our feeling that HaShem is not really giving us everything we deserve.  Our proof?  That other people (who are clearly -- in our eyes, anyway) are getting more than we are.  But we are religious, right?  So we can't actually complain to HaShem.  Instead we direct our anger at HaShem (to Whom we are way too religious to express honestly, even though He can really take it; really) to other Jews (thus violating the Torah prohibition of expressing baseless hatred).  Anyone who has used email as work knows that many conversations take place between those on the CC list without ever talking directly.

So why wasn't I irritated with my grandson's comment?  Because the root cause of that unbridled nachas is that we don't feel that we "deserve" anything from grandchildren.  We put lots of effort into our children and get plenty irritated when we don't get what we (in our minds, to be sure) deserve.  With grandchildren?  We can give them back, so to speak, so we aren't really putting so much effort into their development.  They are pure profit.  We can enjoy everything because it comes to us undeservedly.

When we approach HaShem that way, when we realize that He is giving us everything we need and protecting us from ourselves by not overindulging us, then we can truly appreciate our lives.  When we appreciate how amazing our lives are -- that is to say, how amazing it it to be given existence at all -- then we have no reason to feel jealous of anyone else.  Baseless hatred can't even start.  That's why the Chafeitz Chaim exhorts us to to a self appraisal and really know where we stand spiritually; so we can appreciate how much HaShem does for us and thus stop the source of hatred of our fellow Jews.

Of course, there is at least one more I was so tickled by his comment... that דיוק/precise analysis of "tzadikim are busy does not mean that busy people are tzadikim" sounds a whole lot like something his zeidy would say...


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