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1 Iyar, 5784 - May 9, 2024 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Kovod and Friendship in Sefirah — Remarks of HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein shlita<

by HaRav A. Hakohen


The very fact that Rabbi Akiva's disciples did not accord due respect to one another, says the Rosh Yeshiva of Yad Aharon, HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein, encompasses two aspects. One of them is their lack of showing honor to the Torah, as the Maharsho writes - that they did not feel reverence for their fellow talmid's Torah acquisition, for there is no esteem outside of that for Torah. Additionally, they lacked proper respect for their fellow students per se.

This can be explained by noting that a person possesses two forms of strength: one positive and the other, negative. The positive one is the ability of a person to see the good in another and what he can add to him. The opposite one is to belittle another and downgrade him.

A person should augment the good side by honoring his fellow and certainly not by making fun and disparaging him. When two scholars sit together in study, each one listening avidly to what the other says, it demonstrates that they hold one another in high esteem, employing their positive strength. The fact that Rabbi Akiva's disciples did not do so, it shows their lack in respect for Torah itself.

In addition, the power of unity between them can help build their respective characters. A person needs a friend who can steer him in the right direction by offering good advice. In many instances, a person does not even realize a lack in a given area, while from the outside, a friend can balance him.

A good friend builds up the character of his companion, while the opposite is also true with an unfavorable friend, who destroys the good inherent in his partner while building up the bad. Herein lies the deficiency in their not showing due respect to one another. This, then, is what we must repair and reinforce during this period of Sefirah — a lack in the concept of a good friend.

Can the Rosh Yeshiva explain the very need to show mutual respect?

Both the Sheloh HaKodosh and the Maharal noted the duality of the Luchos Habris. The first five commandments deal with the mitzvos between man and his Creator, while the second five deal with man's relation to his fellow man. The commandments between man and his Creator can be encapsulated with the first, namely, that 'I am Hashem your G-d!" Without this basic premise that Hashem is the A-mighty G-d, all of the other commandments are meaningless. Similarly, all of the five commandments between man his fellow man are anchored in the first one: Thou shalt not murder.

Let us try to understand the relationship between the two ideas. The commandment of not murdering derives from the fact that man was created in the 'image of Hashem', as is explained in Parshas Noach. If a person causes distress to another, he is impairing 'the Divine image of Hashem', as it were. This very act, in itself, is very stringent, aside from the fact that he is harming his very own soul.

Since Hashem created man in His image, it follows that man is obligated in all of those responsibilities related to relations between one person and the other. One must show due respect to another by virtue of the fact that he is also created in Hashem's image. Thus, one who murders is obliterating the image of Hashem from Creation.

How does this apply to us practically?

It is relevant to us every moment of our lives. We must strongly internalize the idea that every Jew has the same right-to-live upon earth. Just like me. He was created in the Divine image, just like me. No one has the right to deny another or seize anything from another or do anything at all at the expense of another.


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