Have you considered what your funeral might look like?
You can learn a lot about someone by observing their funeral. The size of the crowd, the diversity of attendees, and the emotion of their words speak volumes about their achievements and personality.
The Torah tells us of a person whose funeral was mourned by “all of the house of Israel.” The entire Jewish nation mourned the passing of Aharon, the older brother of Moses who served as the High Priest- Kohen Gadol.
The reason is inspiring: Whenever he would hear about a conflict between partners, friends, or spouses, instead of gloating in the juicy Lashon Hara gossip, he would hurry to bring them back together. To make this happen, he would bend the truth as he would tell each side that the other side had confided their sincere regrets with him and was hoping to reconcile as soon as possible. Needless to say, this would instantly disarm them and when they met again they would quickly reconcile, each side thinking that the other had already apologized for their error. Aharon did this through an intense love that he harbored for each and every single human being, as the Talmud testifies that he was “a lover of all humans.”
King Solomon reveals to us that our hearts are mirrors. How we feel about others is exactly how they will feel about us. When Aharon loved the Jews they loved him in return. His sincere love of all people is what made him so loved by them.
In the forties, an emissary—Shliach—of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was serving as a rabbi in New York. Frustrated by his inability to inspire his community to a greater observance of Torah and mitzvahs, he turned to his Rebbe for guidance.
The Frierdiker Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, responded with a beautiful metaphor of people enjoying the pleasures of a sauna. People take great pleasure in being “whacked” with branches by the sauna attendant. But this is only a pleasure when they are already warmed up in the sauna! If you were to flog the same person while he was in the street, he would be justifiably upset.
So too, said the Rebbe, if you are able to “warm up” your fellow Jews by making them feel your love for them, they will then be ready to take any criticism you give them!
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
It’s no surprise that Aharon was responsible for lighting the Menorah in the Holy Temple, illuminating the darkness of the Jewish People. Because once we feel genuine love to others, they feel love to us in return and we have already succeeded in lighting up the darkness towards a better world!
If you’re reading our weekly Torah column, you might be inspired by our messages and may want to share them with family and friends. But not all your friends might be willing to share your passion. If that is the case, then perhaps we can glean guidance from our ancestor Aharon: When we feel love towards our friends, they will feel like they’re in the “sauna” and will be ready, willing, and able to receive the inspiration we send their way.
This doesn’t mean that we should merely be “nice” to others. It doesn’t mean that we should say “please” and “thank you” or smile pleasantly at them. It means that we should love them deeply, from the very bottom of our hearts. If we look at others like Aharon did, as a candle waiting for its match so that it can shine its unique light, then they will feel valued, cherished, and admired as well. By looking at them with dignity, they will feel dignified, valued, and appreciated and thus be ready for the souls to shine their light.
We waste our lives waiting for ideal paths to appear in front of us;
Waiting for people worthy of our love.
But they never do.
Because we forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting.
Friendships are formed by the actions we take, not by the choices they make.
And when you see yourself as a candle, you’ll see the light in everyone else as well!