I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all guilty of violating the second commandment.
Most, if not all of us, worship foreign gods in a sense. How many of us are arrogant enough to claim we know who God is? How many of us have created God in our own image? How many imagine God to be some version of the idealized self or something in the likeness of what we want or expect Him to be? Even the best among us that seek Him out to know Him suffer from mortal limitations in understanding, expecting Him to be kind, merciful, fair, true, etc in the ways of man. But He is not.
Not just that but many who profess to serve the One True God actually fall quite short of this by vastly discriminating against those whose views differ from their own. This negation of the way others believe in and serve God oft times leads to rejection of the people themselves or of the general group from whence they came. I firmly believe that God created all people in His image as we are told in the Bible itself. It is by divine plan that no two people are the same.
The message I take from this is that everyone holds within them a small measure of likeness to God that they and only they alone have. The more one truly wants to know God the more that person will strive to find an aspect of God in his fellow man. This serves to not only help us understand man and God better, but brings about more sanctified cohesiveness by acknowledging the God in all that exists.
Unfortunately, we have seen the worst results of the passionate rejection of different people and ideas in the name of God. Many have called out the Jewish people on our collective responsibility for atrocities that have been committed as of late. It is true that “Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh”, all of Israel is responsible for one another, but sadly the result of this proclamation has been further hate and finger pointing.
It’s enough. Guilt is only good as a catalyst for improvement. I saw the guilt. I don’t see any improvement. Bull charging ahead with accusations and condemnation at opposing theological groups does more harm than good. We must stop demonizing entire segments of society, thereby putting them the defensive. If instead we approached others in a more dignified and respectful manner it would go a long way towards trying to find a solution to the actual problem at hand.
We must always be humbled by the fact that each person has a unique task in this world and you might be the one to push him closer or further towards that goal. We all influence one another and we will be held accountable with how successful we were on those counts. This is part of what “Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh” means.
We have just entered the month Elul. It is a month of introspection that is conducive to change. Let us take this time to work on seeing God in others. Let them help us grow while we help them grow. God said “it is not good for man to be alone”; He wants us to work together. If we only fraternize with people like ourselves we are in essence alone and stagnate our potential growth. Don’t cheat ourselves and others of the tools and gifts God provided us.
Let’s try, try better, try harder, try different and try, try again until we can make it work.
I believe we can if only it is important enough to us. I’m trying. I hope you will too.