On Universal Love and Love of Mankind


Rated PGWe asked our Sexiest Rabbis to contribute a short Dvar Torah or musing on the topic of ahavat habriyot (love of mankind)…..

Rabbi Shevitz
Rabbi Dan Shevitz

Here is the law: there are some things which are forbidden to take into your hands on Shabbat that were not prepared already on Friday. This is the law called Muktzeh. Example? A toothpick. If you didn’t prepare one on Friday (I know, they come prepared today), then you may not make one on Shabbat. Even if it drives you crazy that you’ve got pieces of Shabbos brisket stuck in your teeth. Sorry; you should have thought about that on Friday.

There is an exception. If you are invited on Shabbat to have lunch with a friend, then the equation has changed. You may now prepare that toothpick on Shabbat and excavate your choppers to your heart’s content.

Why? The principle evoked is: K’vod Habriyot – the honor due to of all God’s creatures. To appear at your friend’s table looking like a zhlob would be disrespectful.

This is one example among the dozens that could be given of the importance of honoring God’s creatures, even, sometimes, at the expense of your normal observance. In other words, it may be obligatory to leave your comfort zone (even a religiously sanctioned zone of observance) to avoid bringing discomfort to others.

New case: a JDate has gone poorly. After ten minutes you are convinced you would rather have a triple bypass than see this unfortunate excuse for a date again. How do you let him or her down?
Option 1: Say something like: “it’s been nice; see you soon” then delete all contact information;
Option 2: Say something like: “You are an unfortunate excuse for a date” and hit the road; or
Option 3: Say something like: “thanks for the chance to meet you. I don’t think this will work out with us, but I wish you every blessing and hope you find the right person.”
A person, created in God’s image, is precious. Why can’t we be as creative in our letdowns as we are in cleaning our teeth?

Rabbis Heydemann
Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann

Moral ABCs! WE’RE ALL ONE OR NONE! ALL-ONE! Any camper worth her salt recognizes these words as coming off the side of bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, named for a Jewish soap master in Germany a century ago named Dr. Emanuel H Bronner. In response to his parents’ death in the Holocaust, Dr. Bronner would have been justified in taking on the attitude that many Jews did post-Holocaust: suspicion, fear, defensiveness against the world, and honing in on self-preservation. Instead he adopted a mystical theology and practice of loving all creatures, seeing all things as connected and in need of repair, healing, and cleansing. Hence, the soap, and its eccentric labeling: ALL-ONE-GOD FAITH! The Moral ABCs boil down to ahavat ha’briot, loving all people, all creatures, and wanting what is best for them.

Mishkan Chicago

Rabbi Jill Hammer
Rabbi Jill Hammer

Hayyim Vital, the disciple and scribe of Isaac Luria, said in his book Shaarei Kedushah: “The one Divine being includes in it all things.” I’ve always been moved that in Jewish mystical tradition, the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence, manifests as the cosmos: the elements, the creatures, us. We’re a divine ecosystem of being.

When we turn to the back of the synagogue on Friday night to welcome the Sabbath bride, we’re welcoming existence as our bride/bridegroom/lover. We’re invited to be in love with the world: to see our fellow human beings, and all forms that the universe takes, as faces of divinity that we can meet through loving relationship. And, we’re invited to meet ourselves that way as well.


Rabbi Gordis
Yonatan Gordis

The holy book of the Zohar offers a life changing view of the world. לית אתר פנוי מיניה. Leit atar panui mineh. There is place devoid of the Divine. There is nowhere that is not God. How do find connectedness in this world, even if our senses say, No? All we need to do is to remember that God is residing in everything, even that which doesn’t please our fickle senses and minds. The Divine light is in everything, and I must constantly be striving to fix my vision to see that frequency – in everything. How to love God’s creatures? Easy. Just see God. Everywhere.

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