We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create
z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: In an interaction with another person, focus on that person and what they need.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
PIRKAY AVOS--ETHICS OF OUR FATHERS
Let Your Colleague’s Honor Be As Dear To You As Your Own
יהי כבוד חברך חביב עליך כשלך
Y’hi Ch’vod Chaver’cha Chaviv Alecha K’Shelach
Perek Bais, Mishna Tes Vav Part 1
Story: (based on a true story)
Since I was very young I'd had the knack for taking photos. Early on my parents noticed how well my pictures from the family camera had come out, and for my ninth birthday they bought me my first Kodak camera. Years later, and nearly fifteen cameras and thousands of photographs later, after I'd completed seminary, I went to college for professional photography classes. There I was taught a lot about the technique, the history, and the art of my craft. During college, I met and married my husband, and soon began to start our family. I did however manage to juggle both marriage and school, finally completing my courses and graduating my program. My husband and I decided that I would be a stay at home mom since his career afforded us that financial comfort, and I could easily freelance my work from home. I became quite creative. Since I didn't have a studio, I took on some Sunday clients whom wanted out of the box photography sessions of their children and family. I would do park or lake setting photo shoots at dawn that were just beautiful. It helped bring in extra money here and there and appeased my creative talent. Occasionally I would also freelance my own photos out to magazines. Though, all in all, my first priority remained my children and family.
About a year ago, a lady in my neighborhood asked me some advice since she wanted to start taking pictures on her husband’s old camera. She was so sweet, and as a chessed, I had her over a few times to my house and explained the basics as best I could -- in a quick photography 101 condensed sort of explanation. She was so happy to understand, and several times I'd visited her house to help set up a dark room for her. I'd also left her a couple easy-step manuals on how to master developing her own photos. Then I didn't hear from her for a few months.
Nearly six months later I received an invitation in the mail with a handwritten card. It was from the lady I'd taught photography basics to, and at first I was so surprised I had to sit down and process it. The invitation was to a photography showing of contest winners. This lady had taken a picture - sometime after my lessons, that placed second in the contest, and the photo was being featured in a big showing downtown. The handwritten card was quite heartfelt. She wanted me to be her guest because she personally owed me her hakaras ha'tov for helping her get started, and in being the first to take the time to teach her what she needed to know. Apparently, inside this lady lie a sleeping dormant talent that was bursting to be awoken. And boy-o-boy was it awake now! As I sat there absorbing the news, I had this array of emotions. I was very proud of her, proud that I knew her, and that I was the one to have helped her. However, I had to be honest, lurking inside me was a sense of jealously that I was almost afraid to admit to myself. I was embarrassed with myself, but I felt like saying to her, "Without me, you would never had won this!" Shame flooded me at the potential shame I'd cause her if I ever uttered that out loud to her! And here she already was honoring me with her invitation!
I sat with all my emotions and reactions for a few moments and then I began to realize some things. If it were me winning the award, I would feel horrible if someone was jealous or envious of me! That, right away seemed to douse the flame of my jealous feeling and filling that space in my heart was all the pride I felt for her. The next thing I thought of was, how she truly deserved this honor. Here she was, older than me, never having practiced taking photos -- and later in life naturally coming into this talent right off the bat! It really was quite amazing. Then I realized that I had no business being envious for even a nanosecond! I wasn't entering contests! This lady was! I smiled to myself at my own ego getting in the way of this wonderful lady's accomplishment. And, I told myself, what a wonderful person she is that she sent this invitation and card with it to give me the recognition of being her initial teacher! My heart overflowed then. I can honestly say, I'd worked though my issues. Her joy became my joy!
I attended her showing and I cannot explain how wonderful the night was. The positive love and energy I truly had for my fellow Jew, nourished my soul like nothing I'd ever experienced before!
"... רבי אליעזר אומר: יהי כבוד חברך חביב עליך כשלך..."
"…Rabi Eliezer omer: Y’hi ch’vod chaver’cha chaviv alecha k’shelach…".
"…Rabi Eliezer says: Let your colleague’s honor be as dear to you as your own…"(Perek Bais, Tes Vav).
The Torah commands us, “Love your fellow as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). But before we come to this elevated plane, we must touch upon a number of intermediate goals along the way, one of which is ceasing to harm others, just as we do not want others to harm us. “That which is hateful to you,” states Hillel, “do not do to another; that is the entire Torah” (Shabbos 31a). Here too Rabi Eliezer tells us to be as solicitous of another person’s sense of self as we would like him to be of our own.
Our Sages teach, “If you know that someone is greater than you, even in only one area, you must accord him respect” (P’sachim 113b). To do so, we must be equipped with a “good eye”, the trait that Rabi Eliezer commended so highly in the previous mishna.
“Everyone,” Rambam states, “is obligated to love every Jew as he loves himself… Speak well of another. Help him so that he will not waste his money, just as you are careful with your own money. And the same applies to reputation. A person who gains honor at the expense of someone else’s shame has no share in the World to Come.”
Some contend that this mishna refers to an instance in which we see someone else receiving honor. We must rise beyond any tendency toward envy and instead rejoice precisely as if we were the recipients of that honor. To accomplish this, we must view every Jew as our brother and gain pleasure from his successes, recognizing that his good fortune does not detract from ours, for “no one touches that which is prepared for someone else” (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 3:5). Every individual attains the full measure of what he deserves.
David HaMelech stated, “Hinay ma tov u’ma na’im she’ves achim gam yachad”, “behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together.” He continued, “Like oil upon the head descending upon the beard, the beard of Aharon…” (T’hillim 133:1-2). What is the purpose of the repetition of the word “beard”? The Chachamim answer that “when Moshe saw the anointing oil descending upon the beard of Aharon, he rejoiced as thought the oil were descending upon his own beard.”
(Reproduced from Rav Lau on Pirkei Avos, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)
Discussion Question Options:
What are ways we can become self-aware enough to avoid our jealous or envious tendencies?
What are examples of everyday situations on how a person can avoid or prevent themselves from gaining honor at the expense of someone else’s shame?
What are examples of everyday situations on how a person truly shares in someone else's honor?
Stretch of the Week:
Make a point this week to be truly joyful in someone else's success.