In Parshat Re’eh, Devarim 13:5 we are told: “You shall walk after HaShem your God, fear Him, keep His commandments, obey His voice, serve Him and cleave to him.”
Rashi comments: Embrace His ways, engage in kindness, bury the dead and visit the sick just as God did.
In the Talmud, Sotah, 14a, Rabbi Chama bar Chanina said: What is the meaning of “You shall walk after HaShem your God”? Is it possible for a human being to follow the Divine Presence? It already says in the Torah (Dvarim 4:24), “For HaShem your God is a consuming fire.” Rather, the mitzvah to follow God means we should follow (emulate) the attributes of the Holy One Blessed is He. Just as He clothes the naked, as it says (Breisheet 3:21) “And HaShem God made for Adam and his wife skin garments and He clothed them”, you too should clothe the naked. The Holy One Blessed is He visited the sick, as it is written (Breisheet 18:1) “HaShem appeared to him (Avraham) in Elonei Mamre” (on the third day after his circumcision) you too should visit the sick. The Holy One Blessed is He, comforted mourners, as it is written (Breisheet 25:11): “And it was after the death of Avraham that God blessed Yitzchak his son” (by reciting the mourner’s blessing), you too shall comfort mourners. The Holy One Blessed is He buried the dead, as it is written (Dvarim 34:6) “He buried him (Moshe) in the valley”, you too shall bury your dead.
How is God being emulated in Israel today?
Just as God clothed the naked, we all have the responsibility to make sure that everyone has clothing that they are comfortable with. The way that this is accomplished is through second hand clothing stores where the clothing is all donated and the prices are very reasonable. Shoppers who may not have a lot of money can choose what they like, pay a small fee and feel dignified during the entire process as opposed to having to look for handouts. Some other bonuses that come along with these stores: people who have too much clothing can feel good about themselves by giving away clothing that they no longer need, the proceeds of the stores go to charity and the stores are trendy enough that those who can afford to shop elsewhere will shop there as well. One example is HaBoydem, a store in Talpiot, Jerusalem that helps those who suffer from mental illness return to the workforce.
Just as God visited the sick, we must make sure that those who are sick know that we care about them. Last year, when the war ended, we delivered packages to the soldiers who were still in the hospital. One soldier that we visited was Jordan Low, a lone soldier from Baltimore, MD who fought in the army with Golani. Jordan suffered injuries from smoke inhalation after two rockets struck the building in Northern Gaza that he was in. When we went to see him in the intensive care unit, he said that he wanted to return to the army as soon as possible. Now, a year later it was announced in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper that Jordan Low has fully recovered and will be returning to Golani (even though he technically could have been discharged early from the army).
Unfortunately, sometimes funerals have to take place for those who have no family to mourn for them. This especially happens to Holocaust survivors who have no living family members. As soon as somebody hears that a Holocaust survivor with no family is being buried, they post the information on social media and total strangers show up to pay their last respects to someone that they didn’t even know.
These are just some examples of the wonderful ways that Israelis try to emulate God.
Each of us needs to make a conscious effort to not only fear God, observe the mitzvot and pray, but to focus as well on engaging in acts of loving kindness.