The festival of Shavuot is but a few days away. A student asked the saintly elder Kabbalist, HaRav Eliahu Leon Levi, “How can we prepare for the holiday?”
“Love your fellow Jew,” Rabbi Leon answered. “In the World to Come, the most important thing is not how much Torah a person learned, or how many mitzvot he performed, or how zealous he was in his service of Hashem, but his love for his fellow man and the acts of kindness he performed in their behalf.”
Rabbi Leon wasn't inferring that someone who does good deeds, even though he doesn't observe the Torah, is on a higher level than a Torah-observant Jew who doesn't shine in the area of helping others. He meant that among those who keep the Torah, the person who does acts of kindness for others is on a higher level than those who learn Torah and amass mitzvot for their personal greatness alone.
We have an indication of this in this week’s Torah portion, which begins with a counting of the Children of Israel. Rashi explains that each counting in the Torah shows G-d’s special caring love for the Jewish People. Just as Hashem loves and cares for the Jewish People, we also have to love and do all in our power to promote the welfare of our brother, whether he be someone in our family or a stranger, we must strive to do whatever we can to afford him material and spiritual benefit and blessing.
This coming week, when we look over our middot (character traits) and deeds, in preparation for receiving the Torah, hoping to correct faults and put our service of Hashem on a holier track, I feel that in my ardent love for my fellow Jews, especially those in the Diaspora, in striving to awaken them to the transcendental blessing of living in Israel, I too often wrote in a derogatory manner, shining a harsh and judgmental light on shortcomings, rather than stressing the good.
I am sorry for this and will strive in the future to add healing light, rather than focus on darkness.
Certainly, the Jews of the Diaspora, especially those who read Arutz 7, have a great love for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. Their sometimes critical talkbacks are certainly rooted in their deep concern for the Jewish Homeland and their longing to see Israel develop onto the true Torah utopia that it is gradually heading for, in the slow process of unfolding Redemption with its long path of ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks.
Just like each tribe in the wilderness had its unique talents to offer to the overall success of the nation, so too do our brothers in the Diaspora have much to offer in the breadth, knowledge, and constructiveness of their observations.
This coming week, as we approach the great festival of Shavuot commemorating the giving of the Torah, may the words of our holiday Musaf prayer be realized with the joyous ingathering of all of the exiles from the four corners of the earth, with all of their diverse talents and views, culminating in the long-awaited ascent to the House of the L-rd in Jerusalem by all of the united nation. Amen.