Posted on | May 28, 2006 | By Mark Frankel | 9 Comments
There are no coincidences. In Rabbi Welcher’s Shabbos drasha he brought down the The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba 24:7) which relates:
Rabbi Akiva said, “Love your neighbor as yourself – this is a great rule in Torah.” Ben Azzai said, “This is the book of the generations of man … in the image of God was man fashioned” is a greater rule, for one should not say, ‘Since I was shamed, so, too, should my friend be shamed with me. Since I was cursed, so, too, let my friend be cursed with me.’ “
Rabbi Welcher pointed out that although “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a great principal, there is an aspect of self focus implied in the words “as yourself”. Ben Azzai goes further and says that our love of our neighbor is based on the fact that he was fashioned in the image of G-d regardless of our personal view.
Later on Shabbos day I was learning Pirkei Avos with my son, which we are going through for his Bar Mitvah, and we came to Mishna 1.7:
Nittai of Arbel said, distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not befriend a wicked person, and do not despair of punishment.
And then we learned the famous story from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brachot 10a:
There were once some thugs in the neighbourhood of Rabbi Meir who caused him great distress. He accordingly prayed that they should die. His wife Beruriah said to him, “How can you think that such a prayer should be permitted, considering it is written, ‘Let sins [chatta‘im] cease’. Is it written ‘Let sinners [chot’im] cease!? [No] it is written sins [chatta‘im]! Furthermore, look at the end of the verse ‘and let wicked men be no more.’ Since the sins will cease, there will be no more wicked people! Rather pray for them that they should repent, and there will be no more wicked people.” He did pray for them and they repented.
Given some of the discussions in the previous week on Beyond BT, I thought it was interesting that these were some of the teachings that I came across on Shabbos. I’ll leave it for everyone to connect the dots themselves, but one thing is for certain, there are no coicidences.