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Live with Great Empathy

07/26/2018 02:49:15 PM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

Do not judge your fellow until you have reached his or her place
Al tadin et chaverach ad she tagia limkomo

Lately, I have been thinking about this quote from Pirkei Avot.

I lived most of my life naive to the circumstances of pregnant women. I knew that being pregnant was unique, and at times challenging, but I never really thought about what it entailed: the doctor appointments, the shopping, planning for childcare, aches, pains, the list goes on and on.

I share this not because my life is difficult or because I have unusual struggles as a pregnant woman. I am beyond grateful for the myriad ways people have supported me. Rather, I share this because I realize I could have done a better job of supporting others. Before walking this journey of pregnancy, I fear that I have been unsupportive of friends and family, congregants and strangers as they have walked the journey before me. I simply was unaware of the struggles and inconveniences pregnancy can add to everyday life.

This realization has made me wonder, what else have I been missing ? What are the things that my friends, family, and co-workers deal with on a daily basis...things that make life a bit tougher for them?

When people snap at us, or are unkind to us ...perhaps it is our sacred duty to take a moment to stop and notice. Perhaps the attitudes of others have nothing to do with us at all? Perhaps we stand unaware of the silent struggles and battles of others, the struggles that make their mornings, days, or weeks a bit tougher than usual?

On this Shabbat, as we celebrate the Jewish holiday of love, Tu B'Av, we reflect on our interactions over the past week. Have we left the world infused with a little more love than before...If we have missed the mark in some of our daily interactions, how can we re-energize them with renewed compassion, love, and kindness? In so doing, we will internalize the above, words of wisdom from Pirkei Avot, and live with great empathy.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sam Shabman

Sun, June 16 2019 13 Sivan 5779