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Why you SHOULD help your competitor

Have you ever noticed that when you say “I love you,” the “I” comes before the “you”?

Think about that. This phrase is meant to express our deep fondness for the person we communicate with. Yet, we choose to talk about ourselves first. We are the center of the sentence.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not necessarily a negative thing. In fact, it’s pretty natural to put ourselves – our needs and our interests – first. After all, if we will keep putting the needs of others ahead of our own, our needs will never be fulfilled, isn’t it so?

Now, compare this with the famous verse in this week’s Parsha:

“You shall love your fellow as yourself.” Your fellow comes first; you come second.

How are we expected to put our fellow first? I believe that the answer is hiding in plain sight. Because the verse “You shall love your fellow” has an ending that is rarely shared. The complete verse states: “You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am your G-d.”

Adding G-d to the sentence makes all the difference.

If I am the sole provider for my needs, I have limited space to love others wholeheartedly.

So the verse reminds us: “I am your G-d!” G-d is in the picture. He will provide us with the blessings we need in our lives, both physically and emotionally.

When we have faith, we can worry less and be more available to true love.

The Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael is not only something we must do. It’s an empowering message that allows us to let go of our fears and insecurities.

And then, we can give selflessly, even in the most unlikely scenarios.

Like being in business and helping your… competitor!

In a Yiddish letter from 1950 (Igrot Kodesh, #535), the Rebbe describes the kind of self-talk that can help someone achieve this high level of selfless love.

At first, the business person might develop hatred towards their competitors.

Then, the divine soul will remind them that G-d runs the world, and everything is in His hands. The competitor can have no impact on the business’s success, so why hate them?

“After much self-talk, they will start feeling the hatred receding from their action, speech, and thoughts.

“Then the divine soul will further remind them: love your fellow as yourself! Since you are an expert in your business, and your competitor cannot harm you, go and help them! Give them some good advice; perhaps they need a loan or other means to grow their business. Eventually, the hatred will turn into love”.

You can read this and say, “wow, this is quite an expectation.”

But you can also read this and say: “wow, G-d assumes that I can do this? He must think very highly of me!”

Yes, he does.

May we love and be loved!

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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