Log in Subscribe

‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself'

Moshe Unger - Columnist
Posted 4/8/21

For a large part of its history Poland was run by a noble class who had the land divided between them and each of them owned a particular portion. They had their own small towns and fields and they …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself'

Posted

For a large part of its history Poland was run by a noble class who had the land divided between them and each of them owned a particular portion. They had their own small towns and fields and they charged tax and administrated their piece of land.

Many times, these nobles were illiterate and needed help to run their land so they would hire local Jews to help them run their land. Jews, from time immemorial, were very focused on educating the youth and hence were generally much more literate. This arrangement worked out well in general.

The saying goes that when the nobleman is asked if he likes the Jews he would say, “No”. When he is asked if he likes “his” Jew, the one who worked for him, he would say, “Oh, my Jacob? He is amazing, he is different!”

On the other hand, the saying continues, when one asks a Jew, “Do you like the Jews?” he would answer, “Of course! What's the question? I'm a Jew!” However, when the same person is asked, “Do you like your neighbor?” “Oh no, that person is such a Nudnick!” (Oxford Dictionary: Nudnick - a pestering or nagging person)

This saying comes to show how human feelings can get so distorted between abstract concepts to actual reality on the ground. The nobleman liked the Jews, he just found it right in his social circle to dislike Jews, so he dislikes them in theory, in the abstract.

The Jew, however, should love his or her neighbor because he or she is a fellow Jew and a fellow human. The abstract concept should be actualized in the real life so that it overrides the personal skirmishes that they have.

Abstract concepts and major ideologies can sometimes obscure reality and daily experiences. The concepts and ideologies should only serve to further good and to be therapeutic to angry situations and not the opposite. If it invokes anger and discord, then it is not good.

This came to mind with the sad news in recent weeks of attacks on Asian Americans and on immigrants.

It is a great distortion to dislike immigrants because one is against immigration or to dislike Chinese because one is against China. Immigration or China policy are big ideological and political issues but have zero to do with immigrants themselves or Chinese people themselves.

It is counter-productive to the national discourse on these issues, and it is a grave evil. Immigrants are people and they have every right to try to make their lives better by immigrating to the United States. It is the basic human spirit to try to do the best to better one's own life.

At the same time, the United States has every right to enact policies that are good for their citizens and that is their job to do but the immigrants or Chinese are not the problem. The nation can decide their choices and the individuals within the nation must know that their opinion is one of the many. One can and should advocate certain policies that they believe in but when it is expressed with bad feelings against individuals it is terribly misguided.

It is worthwhile to give a little thought before a greeting of “Good Morning” and “Good Afternoon” to really mean it, to sincerely wish the one who we greet with a good day, even though they don't know we are sincere. Whatever the differences in ideology or policy, this person should be well and have a good day!

Have a great weekend! (I sincerely mean it!)

Comments? Email: moshe@mosheunger.com.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here