Vaykhel-Pekudei – One Plus One Equals One

By Rabbi Mendy Wolf

During WWII, a young boy and an aged man find themselves side by side in a cattle car on the way to a concentration camp in war-torn Europe.  It is frighteningly cold, and the old man asks the boy to help keep his frail body warm through the night.  Morning arrives, and to their horror, the two discover that everyone in the car has frozen to death, leaving them as the sole survivors – the old man, because he was kept warm, the young boy, because he remained active.

There are moments in life when we question why we are putting in so much effort to care for someone else.  Are we, perhaps, doing more than is necessary?  Will the end justify the means?  Could we possibly be wasting our time?

I believe that the answer lies in our capacity to view every human being as a precious equal.  When we recognize that each soul is special, that caring for the next person is as sacred as caring for oneself, G-d actually shows us this in a revealed way.  Granted, what we will gain is not the motivation that drives us, but the fact is, we are rewarded in kind.

This is the message that Moses teaches us in this week’s Torah portion, when he gathers all the Jews together and assembles them as one united congregation.  Here, each individual is treated as an equal – regardless of his/her rank in the community.

Similarly, when we unearth our ability to look beyond externalities, when we have the selflessness to say “I can care for you because we are one and the same,” it is then that we are living life in a truly profound way.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the first Rebbe in the Chabad dynasty, also known as the “Alter Rebbe”) teaches that the true test of one’s love for G-d is measured by one’s love toward His children; for if we truly loved G-d, wouldn’t we care for those He loves?

Don’t you enjoy when a guest comes into your home and shows an interest in your children and their well-being?  G-d does, too!

Indeed, our sincere love toward another human being is indicative of our love toward G-d.  And not only do we make G-d happy when we care for one another, but what’s more, He showers blessings upon us in immeasurable ways.

Do just one selfless act for your fellow…and bring joy to G-d, the recipient, and yourself!

 

Rabbi Mendy Wolf is the educational director for the Institute of American & Talmudic Law, and the director for Project Life, an organization which promotes Jewish values throughout the business community in NYC. R’ Mendy is a sought after teacher and lecturer and resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and family. Contact Rabbi Mendy to book him to speak or with feedback at mwolf@iatlaw.org.

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