1. '...and love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem' [Vayikra 19\18]

Rabbi Akiva said that this is a 'Klal Gadol b'Torah' [i.e. loving your neighbor as yourself is a principle, that encompasses all of Torah!].

The Talmud illustrates: A potential convert came to Hillel and asked to be taught the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel replied [based on our verse]; 'What's hateful to you, don't do to your friend... That's the general principle, now go and learn Torah which will fill you in on all the specifics...'

I hope that you're anticipating the question that I'm about to ask. [If you are, good for you...if you're not, I'll let it slide this time]; The question is; Why is this an all encompassing Torah principle? The Torah is divided into two basic areas - that which concerns our relationship with other people, and that which concerns our relationship with G-d. It's clear how not doing to others what's hateful to myself can be used as a key anchor statement to gauge my relationship with other people. What's not clear is how this interpersonal gauge applies to the other 1/2 of Torah - that which deals with our relationship with G-d.   

Assuming that we do find an answer to our question [chances are I'm not going to leave you hanging, right?], then we need to find out how we can practically carry out this principle in a way that will lift up our interpersonalizing to such a Holy level that it will encompass even the Divine relationship realm of Torah....

                       24000 STUDENTS OF R. AKIVA

2. A teacher of mine here in Jerusalem shared with me the following:
It's known that the 'Counting of the Omer' period that we are currently in, is characterized by both a festive side [bridging the Holidays of Pesach and Shavuot] and a mourning side. The mourning side is based on the fact that 24000 of R. Akiva's students all passed away during this period of time. The reason offered by our sages for the Divine decree of their deaths, is that they didn't properly honor each other. The question to be asked is, how could these students of the very same R. Akiva who taught and lived the all encompassing principle of 'Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself ', not properly honor each other?!
It's pointed out that they weren't accused of not loving each other, but rather not honoring each other. There's 2 ways of expressing love - a self-centered way, and an other-centered way. The self-centered person showing love doesn't really consider that the other person has enough intrinsic importance or wisdom of their own. Therefore [especially when there is a disagreement] they show their love by showering the other person with their viewpoint without trying to take into account that that person has something special to say on the subject ... sound familiar?... a form of gentle coercion! Other-centered love always seeks to find the unique and special point of view of the other person ... and this will automatically result in a very different way of interpersonalizing... that which is filled with truly honoring the other person - that's the point  which 24000 students of R. Akiva didn't get right, and we need to get right in this 'Omer' period.


                            THAT SPECIAL POINT

3. R. Nachman teaches [chapter 282 of his classic work, 'Likutei Moharan'] that everyone of us has a special point that nobody else in the world has.
This is a Divine part of our soul and everybody's soul. When activating this point, the person is considered to be a Tzaddik [a saint] and a King and is worthy of the respect of everyone.
This special point is so powerful, that R. Nachman teaches that you can totally transform a [nearly] worthless person into being totally righteous, by only focusing on this their 'special point' ! For a person to truly perfect himself, they need to seek out in all the people that they encounter, this special point, and do their best to internalize it.
There can be no greater way for 2 people to lovingly bond, then to seek out each other's special points and cause them to flourish! This Divine point is one of the most important manifestations of G-d's garbing Himself in our world. Now we can answer our original question. The real power of loving our neighbor as we do ourselves by not doing to others what's hateful to us, centers around this special point. What could be more hateful to a person than denying to recognize their Holy special essence point?!
And on the other hand, when we do recognize and celebrate this point, than we are not just practicing superlative interpersonalizing, but we are also practicing superlative relating to Hashem Who Chooses to be encountered in this way. And this is what all of Torah is all about - the ability to see Hashem in all aspects of reality and to properly act upon this seeing! Do it with people in your life and you'll do it in all aspects of living!
Now we can also understand why the verse,' Love your neighbor as yourself' concludes with the words, 'I am Hashem'-the very act of properly loving our neighbor will enable us to encounter Hashem.....


Make a list of all the people that you know.

Next to everyone's name, mark down that special Holy point that each person has that no one else has.

This part of the exercise is very important in and of itself, but don't stop there...

The real challenge is to engage the special points of as many of these people as you can when you are with them.

I guarantee you that it will be a blessed activity, thoroughly pleasurable to both you and your friend ... and chances are that they we seek to  return the flavor....

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