Love Thy Neighbor - Anyway

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Love Thy Neighbor - Anyway

Karen Berg
December 29, 2011

Turn on the TV, go to a news website, or read any newspaper at this time of year and you will be sure to find some beautiful stories of sharing, hope, and love. On both a small and a large scale, people have helped other people during this holiday season. This is the time of year when we go out of our way to give and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, which is a great energy—an energy that creates miracles.

But according to the kabbalists, it’s not enough to have this consciousness once a year during the holidays. It is comfortable to share at this time because ‘tis the season to do so. But what happens now that the holidays have passed and we all go back to work? It is so easy to fall back into our routines: thinking about what we want, what we need. But if we really want to bring about an evolution in the world, if we really want to make a difference, then we have to look for ways to share our energy so that we can improve the lives of others.

Most religions and philosophies in the world can agree on one tenet: Love your neighbor as yourself. Like sharing during the holiday season, this is easy to do, especially when we like the person we are supposed to love. But what happens when we don’t like our neighbor, or we are jealous of our colleague, or we resent our parents? Do we still love them as we would love ourselves? For most of us, the answer would have to be no.

It's easy to buy a coffee for a friend, but what about a coffee for the person who pushes all our buttons? Are we able to extend human dignity to the people we don't agree with or get along with? This, then, is our challenge and our power: to extend tolerance to those who are different from us—not because we are “good people” or it’s the right thing to do, but because doing so brings us closer to achieving our potential.

For the kabbalist, the golden rule is not simply to "love your neighbor as yourself," but, even more so, to “love your neighbor as yourself, when it is difficult." It is only when we love when it is difficult that we remove the layers of negativity that separate us from the Light of the Creator.

Kabbalah says that every time we do a negative action, hurt someone else, or find ourselves in a place of anger, we create a negative angel and open a space for bitterness to grow and fester. Who are these bitter people? Bitter people feel victimized or confused or believe that others don’t understand them. Bitter people are people that are totally involved with their ego, with their Desire to Receive for the Self Alone.

So I challenge you to take advantage of this time of year, for it is a time of cleansing, not of our souls but of our hearts. We have the chance to remove any sadness and bitterness we have within so that we can share when it is hard to share and love when it is difficult to love.

Remember, as long as we are alive, there is a spark in us that belongs to the Light of the Creator. But every time we think and act like victims, we deny that energy that was given to us by the Divine Force. So let us use this energy. Let us be a part of the Light in the world, not just at this time but for the whole year to come.