Hi Everyone! Hope you had a lovely Pesach! 

This time of year is sefirah- where we count up until Shavout and mourn for the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akivah’s students.

Why did they all die? What could be the reason for so many young Torah learners dying?

The answer, told to us so many times from preschool onwards, says that the reason they died is because they had no respect for each other. They weren’t mean, or nasty- they just didn’t have the same respect for others as they had for themselves.

These were men who spent all day learning Torah- the main message of which is ואהבת לרעך כמוך- you should love your fellow man like yourself. How much more so should we be aware of this?! We live in a generation that’s disintegrating- where everyone believes that the world revolves around them. Most people don’t even realize they feel this way, and would be horrified to see the impact that their unintentionally selfish behaviour has on others.

This kind of self-awareness, realizing how big the world around you is in comparison to you and how much impact your positive and negative behaviour can have on the world, takes a lifetime to master.

So, does that mean you should go around thinking, ‘I am nothing and everyone around me is so great?’

Of course not! You were created בצלם אלוקים, (in the image of G-d), a special individual. G-d has a specific mission for you to do, that only you, and no-one else, can do. The important thing to realize is that the same is true of everyone else around you.

In this week and next week, I’ll suggest two ways to help improve your אהבת ישראל (Love of others) which is a crucial part of learning to respect others.hands

Have you ever noticed that it’s so easy to speak lashon Harah? It’s so much easier to find bad things to say than good ones.

When cleaning for Pesach, I found a cute notebook, almost empty, that I hadn’t used in years. The idea came to me that it might be a good idea to start a journal.

I wrote the title on the first page, and then, on every few pages, wrote the name of someone I know. (I’m not even a 10th of the way through yet! I’m in high school now!) I left one or two pages for people who I don’t know very well, and three or more pages for people who were close friends, or on the contrary, people whom I’m not so fond of and wanted to find as much good as possible.

For the teacher whom I wasn’t on such good terms with, I wrote about how she answered my questions and wasn’t strict about finishing every single question.

For the friend whom I often don’t get along with, I wrote how she called me when I was sick- twice, and doesn’t use the know-it-all act even when I make a dumb mistake.

If you, unlike me, have the stick-to-it-ness to do this every night for just a minute or two, I’m sure you’ll see incredible results.

Until next week!