This week’s Torah portion includes the Holiness Code, and our study session after Minyan centered on the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.
The people that I daven and study with week in and week out give life to this adage, week in and week out. I see it most clearly in the way they respond to my delightfully-human children. Now sometimes my boys are positively angelic at Minyan. But mostly they are slightly less than angelic. They talk out loud, they lie down on the floor, they sing, they wander about. Today, as we started with the Birchot Hashachar, Gideon announced that he wanted everyone to hush.
Yet my congregation loves these boys as if they were their own. They smile indulgently (and sincerely) when there is an unexpected howl of dump trucks. They giggle when the boys giggle. They kvell when shy Akiva says, “Shabbat shalom.” They kvell when boisterous Gideon approaches them to show whatever picture he’s made with his markers and scrap paper. One friend has begun bringing toys for them to play with during Torah study, toys from her own children’s youth. (Today it was stickers and markers for them to decorate the disposable tablecloths with — sheer genius!)
If everyone in the world cared about everyone else the way my congregation cares about my kids — with joy and patience and understanding — there would be peace. I’m sure of it.