Respect: Be careful to treat all people with respect- even those with whom you have little in common
Of course, I’m going to treat people with respect. Who wouldn’t?
End of posting.
Wait a minute!! What about when I get angry, upset, short tempered, insulted, overlooked…
I know that when I feel depressed or unhappy with a particular situation in life, I’m fragile. And I know that I’m not the only one. A thoughtless comment here, a negative non-constructive comment about a blog there. It all adds up. Rav Yisrael asks us to be respectful of others. No matter who they are or where we are. I constantly have an opportunity to be a Kiddush Hashem with everyone I meet. I believe Rav Elya Lopian was quoted as saying that the best battlefield for Midos and Derech Eretz is in your home. Those who we are close with are the ones who we must treat with the most respect. To be a tzaddik in the street is easy, it’s being a tzaddik once you kiss the mezzuzah on your front door that is difficult at times.
What about if I’m not too friendly with the other person? Or if we wear different types of yalmukas? Or we call it a kipah instead? Or our kids go to totally different schools? Or this person doesn’t cover their hair? Or they daven in the wrong shul? I could go on, but it’s really not necessary. I guess that’s what Rav Yisrael Salanter meant by “even those with whom you have little in common.” I suppose it wasn’t easy for the father of the mussar movement to engage in dialog with maskilim (followers of the Haskalah). There had to be some common denominator to start off with. There was.
We all have one. At times mine is revealed, at times, sadly, it’s hidden. I find it easy to forget that when I’m interacting with others, I have a chance to interact with them on a level of the neshama, as well. I’ll try to use this idea as a starting point when I speak with people. Especially my own family.
I’ll admit, earlier tonight I made an off hand comment to my wife. It was only a one word comment, but it hurt her. It was not very respectful. She called me on it and I apologized. I hadn’t planned on posting this Midah so soon, but it felt like the right time. Funny… I’ve just incorporated the first four Midos in an on-line confession.