Sitting in the comfort of our communities, we can sometimes lose touch of how seriously the Jewish People are currently being challenged. Marriage law changes are a frontal attack on our deeply held beliefs and the unfathomable strengthening of Iran, one the world’s most active state sponsors of terrorism, threatens the lives of Jews in Israel and around the world.
There are three things we are taught to do in such times. Increase our Torah learning, work on improving our davening, and increasing our chesed and love of our fellow Jews. Our Shuls provide an avenue for all three, but let’s focus on our love our fellow Jews, since that is one of the primary callings during the Nine Days.
One of the most practical pieces of advices I’ve ever heard regarding increasing our love of our fellow Jews comes from Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller. She advises that whenever we meet or greet somebody, we should ask ourselves two questions: “How can I give to this person?” and “What can I learn from this person?”
Giving is not limited to physical things, it includes advice, showing you care by inquiring about the other’s welfare, and offering words of encouragement. Learning from others includes not just subject-matter information but appreciating insights offered from their unique vantage point.
The more we give and learn from others, the more we will love them and connect to them. In addition to the personal happiness generated from such connections, this also creates the unity that is necessary to fulfill our purpose in this world. The solution to our problems lies not in the hands of the nations of the world, but in the efforts we put in to increase our love, and eradicate any disdain we have for our fellow Jews.
Let us hope that we collectively rise to the occasion, so that we can all merit witnessing the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash in our lifetimes.