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The Crown of Halacha

Kedoshim 5776 – Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

“…you shall love לרעך (your neighbor) as yourself. I am Hashem.” (Vayikra 19:18)

There are many commentaries that explain the word “לרעך”. The most common explanation is “le’rei’acha” – your neighbor. Rabbi Nachman M’Breslov (LikuteyMoharan 165) gives us an unusual interpretation of this word. Since the Torah is written without vowels, “לרעך” can also be read le’ra’acha” – your troubles. Meaning, you should accept with love all the troubles and afflictions that come your way, they are specifically for you.

Doesn’t it seem counter-intuitive that we should love our troubles? Aren’t we constantly praying to be saved from suffering of any form? How can we possibly feel positive about death, illness, poverty etc?

To explain this, Rabbi Nachman draws on our emunah by quoting the end of the pasuk, “I am Hashem”. This is to remind us (and there are times when most of us need reminding) that Hashem is all merciful, compassionate and blesses us with much more than we deserve. Even our troubles are good for us as they cleanse us from sin and bring us atonement.

These afflictions are “as yourself” meaning they are tailor made to help you though you may not understand how, in the moment or even ever in this lifetime. What a tremendous spiritual accomplishment to perceiveaffliction as a friend and accepting it with love!

Rabbi Chaim Kramer, in his commentary on this Torah, brings a footnote based on LikuteyTefilot 121, “Although we are obligated to accept suffering with love and not reject it outright this does not preclude our praying that Hashem shows us even greater mercy by removing the suffering altogether. It could be that because we are lacking in strength and emunah, it is quite possible that we will fail to withstand the test.” This is the challenge facing us all.


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