In the past month, we have discussed 3 ways to avoid Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred): (1) focus on what you have in common with other Jews – i.e. that we are all trying to serve Hashem; (2) avoid jealousy; and (3) judge others favorably.
There is another, very simple way to develop our Ahavas Yisrael: We can love other Jews when we remember that Hashem loves every Jew.
Chazal teach us that the Jewish people are called “children of Hashem” as the Torah writes, “Banim Atem LaHashem Elokeichem- You are children of Hashem.”1 Just as a parent loves every one of their children, Hashem loves every single Jew because we are His children.2
Furthermore, the Gemara3 reassures us that just as a parent always loves their child unconditionally, no matter how much the child has done wrong, Hashem always loves us no matter how often we make mistakes. No matter how far we have strayed from the proper path, Hashem will always love us.
A story4 is told of Turnus Rufus, a Roman officer, who asked Rabbi Akiva: “Why does Hashem reward you for giving charity to the poor? If Hashem made them poor, doesn’t that mean He wants to keep them poor? It’s like a king who got angry at his slave and locked him away in a dungeon, and commanded that no one may give him food or drink. Then a person comes along and feeds the wayward slave. When the king hears of this, wouldn’t he get angry at that person for feeding the slave?”
Rabbi Akiva answered: “No! You have it all wrong. The poor among the Jewish people are not comparable to Hashem’s “slaves.” Let me give you a different parable: Imagine a king who got angry at his son and locked him away in a dungeon, and commanded that no one give food or drink to the prince. Then a person comes along and feeds the prince. When the king hears of this, wouldn’t he be happy and reward that person who fed his son?”
Rabbi Akiva here was making the point that Hashem doesn’t just see us as servants; rather, we are His beloved children. Every single Jew is so precious to Hashem, and anyone who takes care of His precious children will be greatly rewarded. Therefore, we should do our best to love and care for our fellow Jews even just for the simple reason that Hashem loves this Jew, so we should love him, too.
Brothers and Sisters
Furthermore, if we are all Hashem’s children, then it follows that all Jews are brothers and sisters. Just as a father would want his children love each other and live together in peace, Hashem wants us to love our fellow Jews and live peacefully with them.
Remembering that our relationship with our fellow Jews is like a relationship between siblings can help us maintain peaceful relationships no matter how much we are hurt or irked by other Jews. Just as your siblings remains part of your family forever – no matter how annoying they are or how much they do wrong – so too, our Jewish brothers and sisters are considered our family forever.
Every Jew Is an Integral Part of the Jewish People
Not only are the Jewish people considered children of Hashem as a whole nation, but Chazal teach that every individual Jew is precious to Hashem.
In the beginning of Sefer Shemos, Rashi5 quotes a Midrash which says that Hashem counts the Jewish people just like He counts the stars. Hashem not only counts every Jew by number, but He even calls every Jew by name, to show His love for each one of them.
As we explained earlier, every Jew has a unique mission to fulfill on this earth. Hashem gave each of us different personalities, talents, skills, and life circumstances in order to serve Him in different ways. If even one Jew would be missing or fail to fulfill his or her tafkid (mission), the world would be missing that Jew’s unique contribution to the world.
The Zohar says that “Yisroel” is an acronym for “Yeish Shishim Ribo Osiyos LaTorah – There are 600,000 letters in the Torah.” Just as there are 600,000 souls in the Jewish nation, every single letter in the Torah represents a different Jew. According to halacha, if a sefer Torah is missing even one letter, it cannot be used. This parallelism symbolizes that if Klal Yisroel is missing even one Jew, then our nation is incomplete.
When we look around, it may seem like some Jews are more important than others. We might feel like the Rabbis are the most important, or the Torah scholars, or the philanthropists who are known to give a lot of tzedakah. But this is not true! Every single Jew is precious in Hashem’s eyes and is seen as a necessary part of Klal Yisroel.
When you pass by your Jewish co-workers, or the Jewish worker behind the counter, or the guy who sits in the back of your shul and hardly davens, or the elderly woman across the street, or the irreligious Jew who doesn’t even know what Shabbos is, (or even yourself when you pass by the mirror!)… do you see a regular person, or do you see a person who is beloved by Hashem?
We are sometimes so wrapped up in our own world and busy with our own lives that it’s easy to just pass by other Jews without a second thought. But Hashem doesn’t skip over any Jews. Every single Jew is so precious in His eyes.
It’s not always so easy to love every Jew. There may be some people whom we find to be annoying, irksome, or just plain weird. Maybe you don’t like his nose, you don’t like the way she talks, you feel he never understands what you’re saying, or you think her sense of style is seriously outdated.
But perhaps we can try to look at these people in a new light, by thinking: “How can I dismiss this Jew as weird or annoying if Hashem loves him/her so much?”
Throughout the next month – as we go on to focus on a different middah – let’s try to hang on to our sense of Ahavas Yisroel by practicing this long-term challenge…
Sources:  Devarim 14:1;  Pirkei Avos 3:14;  Kiddushin 36a;  Bava Basra 10a;  Shemos 1:1
Once a day, when looking at another Jew, think:
“This person is so precious to Hashem. I love this Jew because Hashem loves this Jew.”