Examine Your Life
Question 30: How do I love my friend as myself?

   Rabbi Schwartz :
We may choose to look at our friends, family, community, and nation as an extension of ourselves. In this way, what is good for them, we understand, is good for us. What makes them happy makes us happy. And anytime, we are able to help, encourage and even just smile at someone else, we enrich ourselves in this world and the next.
How then do we react to their annoying mannerisms and ways? How do we love them when their words and actions irritate or even repel us?

We need to look at such situations as a special challenge from Hashem, a special challenge that we may grow only the better. By being tolerant, acting with patience, kindness and love - despite our frustration - we become only the richer and greater. By quashing our inclination to scorn, we enter new territories of achievement. Now higher levels of living can become ours.

Naturally, from youngest childhood, we suffer from a jealousy and resentment of others. Together with these, we are plagued by a sense of being superior to others. To rid ourselves of all this, we need to reprogram our minds, reset our thoughts, and declare that their every success is in fact, our success!

The next step then is to focus on loving our friends, thinking friendly thoughts about them, and centering on how precious are all Hashem's children. This will allow loving thoughts, warm and kindly thoughts, to shine through our faces, and with Hashem's help we will fulfill the Torah's command to "love your friend as yourself."*

* VaYikra 19.18

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