Ramat Shalom’s Selichot Service, the official kick-off of the High Holiday period, will take place this Saturday evening, September 21 at 7:30 PM. With all of the division and hatred in our society today, one of the things we’ll be focusing on during the High Holidays will be how to elevate kindness, civility and love. Incorporated into our Selichot Service will be an important discussion regarding ways in which we can work together to ensure that our synagogue is a model of a kind, civil and loving community. Central to this discussion will be this beautiful kabbalistic text:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“Love the stranger as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:34)
The work to develop our love for others is deep, practical, day-to-day spiritual work.
To reach the goal of loving everyone in the world as much as we love ourselves, we first need to be able to love our friends as much as we love ourselves.
The first step is to form a small community of close friends who want to work together towards the goal of truly loving one another. It is important to choose friends we feel close with, and only people who are serious about doing this work. The group of friends meets regularly for spiritual learning and to discuss ways to develop love and cooperation between the friends.
While the goal is to reach the place of truly loving everyone in the world, at first the work towards loving others is focused primarily on this group of friends. We strive to focus on the good points of the other members of the group and try to think only good thoughts about each other…We strive to be concerned with the needs of our friends to the same extent that we are concerned with our own needs.
When we succeed in loving our friends as ourselves, we can then try to widen the circle more and more until eventually we are able to love every single person in the world as ourselves.
Principle 11 – Spiritual Companions, translated by Avraham Loewenthal from the holy writings of Rebbe Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb, the disciple of Rebbe Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag z”l (1906-1991), who is the disciple and son of Rebbe Yehudah Leib HaLevi Ashlag z”l, known as the Baal HaSulam (1885-1954)
I invite you to join us tomorrow evening as we explore ways that we can bring this text to life here at Ramat Shalom.