Josh thought for a moment. “I can hear what you’re saying. In the end I guess it’s better to like people than to dislike them for no special reason. So let’s make a deal. We can invite all those kids and I’ll try to learn to like them ‘just because’, and we can order those bagels now ‘just because’ we’re hungry!”
Q. How did Josh feel at first about who to invite to the party?
A. He didn’t want to invite many of the kids because he disliked them even though he didn’t have any real reason to.
Q. How did Avi feel about it?
A. He felt that it was important to like and love each other and we should even try to like people even without any special reason why.
Q. What lesson can we learn from the story?
A. When relating to other people we have a choice of what will be our ‘default’ or automatic reaction to them. We can choose to either like someone until we have a good reason not to, or choose to dislike someone until we have good reason to like them. We make our lives and the world so much better if we choose the path of love and let ourselves see people as likeable until proven otherwise.
Q. Do you think it is possible to like or love everybody? How?
A. Of course, some people are easier to like than others, but if we try to see the good in people we will discover the list of ‘likables’ growing all the time. With few exceptions for those who are genuinely evil, a person can, if he or she tries, find a way to love everyone.
Ages ten and up
Q. Our sages refer to two types of love—conditional and unconditional, and teach that conditional love is bound to eventually fade away while unconditional love will last forever. How do you understand this idea?
A. Conditional love is when we love someone “because of” – because of the way they look, what they do for us, and even because we think we should be loving, or because it makes us feels good to be loving. All of these conditions are subject to change, and if they do, the love that was based on them will immediately fade. But unconditional love, choosing to be loving no matter what with no strings attached, is a much purer and stronger type of spiritual love, and like all things truly spiritual, will last forever.
Q. What do you think is the connection between dislike and hatred amongst us, and the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash?
A. The Bais HaMikdash was an amazing place of daily miracles and an earthly representation of Hashem’s presence revealed in the world. Hashem is the ultimate force of love and unity and wants us to follow His ways by loving each other and being united too. When we chose the opposite path of infighting and senseless hatred amongst each other we, so to speak, made ourselves and the world so incompatible with Hashem’s love and unity that He ‘hid himself’ by allowing the Bais HaMikdash and what it stood for to be destroyed. Conversely, when we finally decide to love each other the way Hashem wants us to He will allow the Bais HaMikdash and with it His revealed presence to return. May it be soon.
About the Author: Nesanel Yoel Safran is a published writer and yeshiva cook. He has been studying Torah for the last 25 years, and lives in Israel with his family.
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