Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Respecting Yourself Will Lead to Respecting Others

Rabbi Jay M. Stein on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 4:12

ELEAZAR B. SHAMMUA SAID: LET THE HONOUR OF THY DISCIPLE BE AS DEAR TO THEE AS THINE  OWN, AND THE HONOUR OF THY COLLEAGUE AS THE REVERENCE FOR THY TEACHER, AND THE REVERENCE FOR THY TEACHER AS THE FEAR OF HEAVEN.

In high school geometry I learned the transitive property.  It is the rule that if A = B and B = C then A=C. It was one way of showing equivalents. That is, if we know something about one thing and we know it is the same as something else then they must share similar if not identical properties. It is the way we learn.  It is the way we grow. We take something we understand and we see how it is the same or different from something else. We love our parents and our children, but not exactly the same way. Our Mishna teaches, if we show respect for ourselves, so too we can show similar respect for others.

But the Mishna offers other insight as well if we apply another geometric principle.  If we apply the converse property we can gain greater understanding of the interconnectedness of the relationships in which we are engaged. If A=B and B=C  therefore A=C then C=B and B=A therefore C=A. If we follow the Mishna backwards we begin to understand that maybe we show a reverence for God that ought to be shared with our fellow human beings as well.  

If math isn’t your thing (and it certainly isn’t mine), here it is simply.  Find ways to offer respect and reverence, respect for yourself, for others and for God.  Start wherever you would like.