Commentary on Parashat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim, Leviticus 16:1 - 20:27
There are plenty of reasons to hold a grudge or seek revenge in life. Is it worth it? Some say yes and are energized by animosity to others. Most people, however, realize the futility and burden of carrying grudges. We all need to be taught to let go of slights, insults, and bad behavior of others. Rabbi Hillel has a great image for everyone. When challenged to explain the entire Torah on one foot, he responded “What is hateful to you, do not do to another.” The rest is commentary, now go study.”
This week’s Torah portion teaches us not to bear a grudge or take revenge on others and is directly followed by probably the Torah’s most famous line, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Deep down we know that may not always be possible, but it is still a worthy goal.
We easily excuse our own bad behavior because we are tired, annoyed, or distracted. Shouldn’t we be as charitable in judging others? When we bear a grudge or take revenge, we do not allow other people to say they are sorry and fix their mistakes. We do not give them the chance to try again. Wouldn’t we want to be given another chance? Rabbi Hillel’s one-foot image of not doing to others what you wouldn’t like could be a wonderful family motto.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about not bearing grudges or taking revenge on others.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· What does it means to love others as you love yourself? How can you do this?
· Can you think of a time when you held a grudge or took revenge? How did it make you feel? How do you think it made the other person feel?
· How would you explain the Torah while standing on one foot? Try it out!
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.