Volume 1, Lesson 8
Last week we discussed the topic of expressing hakoras hatov towards our parents.
Chedva walked in and all eyes turned towards her. She looked different then her peers. She looked strange. Therefore, whenever she entered the room, it got quiet, and when conversation continued, everyone totally ignored her presence. Day by day this happened but no one thought about how disrespectful they were being to her, a human just like them. I entered the class mid year and felt comfortable right away. But I noticed what happened daily with Chedva and something didn’t seem right. “Chedva is a person just like you and I,” I explained to my friends. But no one understood. So I decided I had to show by example. The next day, when Chedva walked into the room, I went over and said hi. Chedva was surprised that someone actually spoke to her, but she was pleased. We managed to have a very nice conversation. I got some looks from my friends but I didn’t care. Chedva is a person and she deserves respect. So every day, Chedva and I talked and slowly the other girls realized that she is a wonderful person and they too should get to know her. They did and today Chedva is a valuable part of her class. She is loved. She is welcomed. She is respected.
Stretch of the Week
Make it a point to acknowledge someone through thought or action that you previously had not had an appreciation for.
Points to Ponder
How do people gain respect? How do people lose respect? Is respect something that someone must earn or should we give it to any person?
If someone suffers from lack of self-respect what effect can your respecting them have on them?
How would one gain if s/he were to act with respect even to those people who do not act with respect towards them?
In Pirkei Avos (4:1) it says Ayzehu mechubad? Ha'm'chabed es habrios – Our Sages explain: “Who is honorable? Someone who shows honor and respect to other people”. This teaches us that it’s not how other people treat you that makes you important and honorable, rather, it’s how you treat others.
When you realize that every human being is created in the image of HaShem, you realize that right from birth every human being is important and valuable. By being respectful to other human beings, you add to your self-respect. You recognize that when you treat others with respect, you are expressing respect to the Creator. You can accomplish this by imagining that everyone you meet wears a sign saying: “Please treat this child of Mine with great respect. [signed] Your Father, Your King, Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
The word “kavod” comes from the word “kaved” which means “heavy”. Kavod means that we realize that every person has weight and must be taken seriously. Kavod HaBrios, the dignity of man, is given the highest priority in the Torah. Respect for another human being is not contingent on his merits but simply on his humanity.
(Excerpt from Building your Self-Image by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin)
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