Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 13 Midos – #4

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.
The neshama.
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.

6 thoughts on “Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 13 Midos – #4

  1. socialworker/frustrated mom

    Thank you, very improtant. Good for you that you apologized. It happens to all of us. Respect isn’t too hard when we are happy with people and we are in good moods. When we are grumpy and unhappy with someone is the real true test.

  2. Rafi G

    hmmm. that makes sense. we are perhaps too nonchalant with those we are clsoest to. We make the remarks we would not make to other people.. I guess I should be more careful about that now…

  3. Bari

    Rav Avigdor Miller once said that most of a person’s Olam Haba depends on how he treats his wife.

    I imagine he meant that that serves as a great gauge on how well one is doing in the Olam Haba department.

    Rav Shlomo Zalman must be living it up after his comment at his wife’s levaya that he has nothing that he needs to ask Mechila for from her, since they lived their lives according to the Shulchan Aruch.

  4. Pragmatician

    Interesting post again.
    I see that it’s much harder to remember ‘to behave’ with the people you’re the closest with.
    Everyone wants to make a good impression, but when you’ve already made one, it’s no reason to stop acting like a mentch

  5. FrumGirl

    This is so true for many of us. I observe how some jews may look down and then talk down to other jews that arent dressed to their religious satisfaction… this is so wrong!


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