it's not just about fostering relationships but about seeking and nurturing the divine spark in each of us. * On Hayom Yom for 24 Menachem Av.
Today we learn that loving your fellow Jew is tantamount with loving G-d. At face value, this might seem abstract, even confusing. How can a human relationship equate to connecting with the Divine?
Rabbi Akiva, a pivotal figure in Jewish thought, encapsulated this idea when he declared, "Love your fellow as yourself – this is a great principle in the Torah" (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:4). But beyond just a principle, there’s an implicit recognition here: every individual carries a spark of the Divine. When we love others, we're essentially embracing that divine spark.
Similarly, Hillel the Elder simplified the entire Torah's essence by asserting, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That's the entire Torah; the rest is commentary" (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a). As Ramban, one of the foremost Torah commentators, expanded upon this, stressing the importance of empathy and understanding in our relationships, reflecting the care and love Hashem has for every individual.
MEDITATION: DEEPENING OUR CONNECTIONS
The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, emphasized the role of contemplative meditation. Drawing inspiration from King David’s words in Psalms, “But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord, and on His Torah he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2), the Baal Shem Tov taught the significance of internal reflection. This isn't about detachment but about deepening our connection.
The Chassidic tale of Rabbi Zusha of Hanipol comes to mind:
*Rabbi Zusha was once asked how he managed to maintain such love and warmth for every Jew he met. He replied with a smile, "When I meet someone, I try to look for their unique divine spark, their innermost soul. When you look deep enough, it's impossible not to love another."* (Source: "Tales of the Hasidim" by Martin Buber)
ENVISIONING A FUTURE OF UNITY
When we speak of the age of Moshiach, Isaiah’s vision stands out: "Nations will not lift a sword against nation..." (Isaiah 2:4). While this hints at global peace, on a personal level, it underscores unity. It's a reminder that embracing each other's divine spark brings us closer to a harmonious world, where every connection echoes our bond with Hashem.
Every interaction, every connection, is a step closer to the Divine. Embracing this insight transforms our perspective: it's not just about fostering relationships but about seeking and nurturing the divine spark in each of us. In this lies the secret to a world resonating with love, unity, and divine purpose. Let's cherish and nurture these connections, one spark at a time.