On Menschlichkeit

  • Harav Yehuda Amital

Sicha for Shabbat from the Roshei Yeshiva
Yeshivat Har Etzion


PARASHAT VAYETZE

SICHA OF HARAV YEHUDA AMITAL SHLIT"A

On Menschlichkeit

Summarized by Betzalel Posy

 

"And Yaakov kissed Rachel; and he raised his voice and wept." (Bereishit 29:11)

When I was in kindergarten, my melamed explained this verse to me as follows: when Yaakov saw Rachel, overcome with emotion, he kissed her. His crying, however, stemmed from his repentance for this lapse.

What have we come to, that we must react negatively to the display of emotion, passion, and even romance!? Romance has a positive connotation in our worldview. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, created angels, and he created people. He created people to feel emotions and use them for His service - both fear and trepidation, as well as joy and happiness. Part of divine service is to enjoy God's world, and pursue normal human activities within the framework of holiness and worship. One who loves people can also come through it to love of God and His commandments. If the Kadosh Baruch Hu had wanted to create only angels, He would have done so, and who are we to question His creation?

The approach that I am opposing comes from some people's overestimation of their own worth and their place in the world. Some feel that their observance and knowledge gives them the right to say that, "My place is above everyone else; humanity is not for me." But when one does not care for others, when he cannot sympathize with their feelings and perspectives, one also cannot feel for the perspective of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. "There is no room in this world for both Me and the ba'al ga'ava (haughty person)," says God, according to the midrash.

One of the things that personally hurts me the most is when I hear of yeshiva graduates using their yeshiva "credentials" as a license to mistreat others. Who do they think they are!? Just because you are a "yeshiva bochur" you do not need to concern yourself with the feelings of others?

While I know that this is not applicable yet to many of you, let me give you some advice on how to handle yourselves when the time comes for you to seek a partner - someone who is not just compatible with you, but who is important to your life. Do not focus only on your needs and wants, but also on hers. Call frequently, and do not blame her for your own faults. When things do not work out, do not simply say, forget it; but seek where the responsibility lies in yourself. And my wife tells me to add: never end a relationship over the telephone; even if an extra date is required, the mitzva involved is worth it. That way we can all lay claim to the legacy of Bnei Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.

(Originally delivered at Seuda Shelishit, Shabbat Parashat Vayetze 5757.)

 

 


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