Ahavas Yisroel Stories

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Ahavas Yisroel Chaburas

Some weeks ago, my father in law passed away, and my husband was sitting shiva. Dutifully, I set about calling our neighbors including those in our bungalow colony to notify them. Mentally, I walked down the block as well as the bungalow colony, as I called family by family. And then, I stopped short: The *“Shapiros”! (identifying details have been changed) . they weren’t people on any of our lists. Not Mishloach Manos. Not Mazel Tov calls. Not my daughter’s upcoming bat mitzvah list. Some five years ago, Mr. Shapiro had strongly insulted my husband in the course of a common altercation at the bungalow colony, and failed to apologize despite my husband’s request. Hard to explain, but that was the beginning of a very subtle but real cold war between their family and ours. (In the years following, they made some big simchas, to which we weren’t invited.)

Often, through the years, my conscience bugged me about doing away with this, but somehow I never found the right moment. Now, thinking about my father in law-a person who embraced every Jew—propelled me to clear the air finally. Afraid I’d lose my momentary resolve, I acted quickly. Hashem really helps when we make the first move! I called a mutual acquaintance, to arbitrate, telling Mr. Shapiro that we were looking to reconcile, that my husband was sitting shiva, and would welcome him at the Shiva home. He came to the shiva house only hours later! I also made another difficult move-calling Mrs. Shapiro directly and apologizing to her. We had a long, touching conversation, which ended most amicably. Peace at last! Now the grief of losing my father in law is at least softened and I can visualize him smiling at us in heaven. Even in his death, he fostered ahavas yisroel. May Mashiach redeem us and bring us eternal peace!


Ahavas Yisroel begins at home! At a recent Ahavas Yisroel Chabura, a guest speaker, Chava Friedman, board certified life coach, taught us some tools on forgiveness, a central element in Ahavas Yisroel. The lessons really helped me stave off an uncomfortable situation between my husband and me. We were discussing an issue, and my husband made an impulsive barb. Typically, my response would be to retreat into silence and sulk for too long. Instead, I responded in an even but assertive voice with “ouch, that hurts. I was just wondering why you said that? Certainly you wouldn’t make an intentional effort to derail our shalom bayis?” And that was that! He quickly clarified what he meant and we ended the discussion to our mutual satisfaction.

********************* After participating in an Ahavas Yisroel chabura, I moved to a different state.This morning, Rosh Chodosh Nissan, 25 women (as opposed to 47 women Rosh Chodosh Adar) gathered in my condo in Florida to say brochos, Daven, sing Hallel together and hear an incredible Drosha by Rebbitzen Sara Friefeld. ( a little breakfast, too). This took place even though "the season" is basically over and most snowbirds have "flown" north! All who participated were inspired and happy. Even though, I will be "north" next Rosh Chodosh , and many more will as well,the group decided to continue. Great!


Motzai Shabbos my brother-in-law went to one of the local bagel shops and bought some bagels for Melava Malka. On Sunday afternoon there is a knock at the door. My brother-in-law explains that somone in his Yeshiva worked at the bagel store and overcharged him by mistake about $3-4 dollars and he came to return the money!

The next story is that my car was stuck in the beautiful snow. My 2 younger friends offered to clean the car. I went out about 20 minutes later and the entire car was clean!! I then told them that now since they helped clean my car I would give them a ride in my car to the local grocery so they can choose some special treat. They declined saying that this is a Chessed!! ( By the way, they are proud junior high- school students.)


One thing we are accomplishing as of this Purim....we will be sending shaloch manos packaged from our children to each child of a small community that has just come to settle nearby. They are pretty much all alone, no family connections, finances, etc....

So we're "reaching out" -- "From our community to yours, from our children to yours" (we'll be sending a shalach manos package to each family, as well, with the types of food & snacks they are familiar with).


One thing that I did, was sign up to get a text message (on the National Council of Young Israel website) whenever rockets are shot at southern Israel. I cannot explain the feeling of connectedness that I know have to the people living there. I now keep my cell phone with me at all times, I feel as if it is my life line, that it is my responsibility to stop and say tehillim when those rockets are shot. I know that during the 15 seconds that they have to react, I also have 15 seconds to react. To say tehillim and to plead with Hashem that everyone stay safe and that that should be the last rocket.


Our chabura started a program whereby newcomers are matched to established families. We signed up to be matched and through the program are welcoming a young couple. We only met them once and now she gave birth, so we are helping arrange meals, Shabbos, Shalom Zachor etc. It’s a wonderful idea. The chaburas are helping with suppers for her. WE ARE STRETCHING!!


The day after a Rosh Chodosh Adar gathering in my home, two women and I were taking our daily walk. One women was telling the other (who is not frum) about the previous day's event -how special it was, etc,- we both said that perhaps the next time she would come. A month later, I was walking with only the non-frum woman the day before Rosh Chodesh Nissan and I was thinking to myself if I should invite her since she would virtually know no one and might be uncomfortable. I decided to do it - I asked her to come in the morning, explaining that we would be praying in Hebrew - she said she would love to come - I suggested that she could read in English. That evening, I took a siddur and put sticky notes on the tefillas that we would be saying, writing on each whether we would be sitting or standing. In the morning she arrived appropriately dressed and smiling. I gave her the siddur, explaining my notations. There was not much time to talk as many people were arriving and we were beginning the brochos. She made herself comfortable and joined in with the group - I noticed that when we were saying Shmoneh Esrai, she too was standing and was really reading the words intently. She stayed for breakfast and I introduced her to several people. She was one of the last to leave, thanking me profusely. I'm not sure what effect this morning had on her, but I do know that it affected me and many other women positively!

***************************************** Motzai Shabbos my brother-in-law went to one of the local bagel shops and bought some bagels for Melava Malka. On Sunday afternoon there is a knock at the door. My brother-in-law explains that somone in his Yeshiva worked at the bagel store and overcharged him by mistake about $3-4 dollars and he came to return the money! **********************************

My car was stuck in the beautiful snow. My 2 younger friends offered to clean the car. I went out about 20 minutes later and the entire car was clean!! I then told them that now since they helped clean my car I would give them a ride in my car to the local grocery so they can choose some special treat. They declined saying that this is a Chessed!! ( By the way, they are proud TAG junior high- school students.)


Here is what I have been thinking to help me overcome inner negativity: "Out of my love for Hashem and my desire to come closer to Hashem, and with gratitude for the opportunity to do His Will as stated in the Torah in a manner that is pleasing to Hashem, I ask Hashem to help me rise above the natural feelings that this circumstance presents and further ask that Hashem should protect me from the temptations of the Yetzer Hara to respond lowly so that I (which is my greater “I” that includes my corporeal “I” and my tzelem elokim) may express Hashem’s midda of lovingkindness towards the tzelem elokim before me who Hashem loves (which brings me closer to Hashem because when we are close to someone we are like them and which, by recognizing that we all have the same root, builds shelamos and achdus), and perform this mitzvah beautifully and with ahavas yisrael."


A man was driving to the country to spend time with his family. His car broke down outside of Monsey (he was driving from Crown Hieghts) and he realized that if he waited for emergency help he would not make it for shabbos and he was not sure what to do. All of a sudden a car pulled out with a frum Jew to see if he could help and when he found ou the situation he pulled out his cell phone. My brother is in a car a few exits behind me, I just spoke to him. He will pick me up. You take the car and bring it back after Shabbos.


A woman shared that a close friend of hers was not returning her phone calls and even though she saw her taking her kids to school and in the stores, she was not communicating with her, keeping her distance. She felt hurt and she didn’t understand what was happening, but instead of calling her and sharing how upset she was,she left her a message (after not being called back 6 timres) saying I just hope you are okay, I notice you haven’t ccalled me back. I want to make sure you are okay. She didn’t call back. Weeks later she contacted her and she said I have to tell you I wewnt through a difficult challenge and even though I had to continue function I couldn’t talk to anyone. And I got a lot of angry people and you were the only one who didn’t leave an angry message for me. And knowing that you were not angry at me was so helpful.


I parked my car to drop my child off at camp and a lady stopped her car right behind me after I took my kids out of the car and yelled that I can’t leave my car there because it is dangerous, it was right by a curb on the road. She wanted me to park somewhere else. Instead of responding negatively, I walked over to her car and in the warmest way possible I thanked her so muchf or pointing out that is wasn’t a good place to park and told her that I will be more aware next time and acknowledged her contribution. I could see her face changed and she said okay and she drove away.


I was watching my small campers as they began to get into a dispute over a ball. One child nudged someone away, and that child shouted something less than kind back. The first child then pushed him down on the ground and the second child started to cry. While checking to see that the child on the ground was not hurt, I was remembering something Rabbi Frand said in his shiur on 9/11 about being in the golus of Ishmael, and that when we are able to defeat Ishmael, we will bring the geula shelama. Being in an Ahavas Yisrael chabura, I was trying to piece together something to say and to teach based on these two themes. My heart was racing. A nudge, a harsh word, a push – what was I to say? What I wanted them to know is that such conduct lowers not only the participants, but everyone who sees it too. It is a terrible example because if we rely on hurtfulness to reach our goals, it has a terrible effect on everyone’s self-image. We no longer see each other as b’tzelem elokim, but rather as de-humanized objects there to serve our own will instead of the will of Hashem. Over the prolonged period of time that we have had to suffer with terrorism and intifada and murdering bombers, have we not lost the idea that every person is precious? How was I going to compete with the almost supernaturally compelling influence that harsh words and a good push communicate to a person? It communicates to the more readily available body but it obscures the preciousness of each person. I took both the boys over to the side and said that we were all going to sit there until we were able to see each other as equals and having value. I didn’t make them talk at first, but I said that when our mouths and bodies resort to this type of conduct, it is a sign we need to re-connect with our higher selves, our souls, for which such conduct is beneath. I had in mind that my words restore re-stabilize them and heal their friendship. I said to them that if words could break their friendship, then logically loving words can restore it and that they need to be able to apologize to each other or ask Hashem to help them apologize, and that perhaps my words of tehillim would affect them, and I said tehillim while they sat there. After awhile, they shook hands and went back to play


I was thinking about the success stories and how there is a thread in them - that when people don't get the response and attention that they expect, they go downward in their personalities and believe that there is something wrong, someone is mad at them, rejecting them, etc. They then express disappointment, anger or otherwise damage the relationship. I am beginning to smell a skunk called the yetzer Hara! What is the antidote?

A love relationship with Hashem. When we bring Hashem's love for us to our conscious mind, it becomes our dominant relationship. It seems to me that the reason that smiles and being kindly to people all day long has such an impact is that each person is social and needs human warmth and interaction, and we provide that for each other in communities, schools, societies, and of course families. We all have interdependency needs, even as adults. What keeps us interdependent and not dependent on others is our relationship with Hashem remaining primary. When we have bitachon in Hashem, we know that everything He sends is good. When we feel secure in our relationship with Hashem, it is because we feel we are living up to what He tells us in the Torah that He wants us to do - to emulate His middos, to keep the mitzvahs, and to love Hashem with all our heart, and all our soul and all our might. A true yiras shemayim knows that Hashem loves din and that to avert suffering it is good to live Torah to the best of our ability. No matter what, if a person is rude or kind to us, it is good because it is from Hashem for our personal growth and development. If we incorporate this into our consciousness, and someone is distant from us, we will bui neder not fall into the clutches of the yetzer Hara, or if we do, we will quickly realize it and ask Hashem to restore us to the point where we feel once again our conscious loving relationship, thereby creating a hands down alternative to feeling miserable and falsely blaming or worrying.

When we practice Ahavas Yisrael as if our lives depend on it, we recognize His true existence and through yiras Hashem transform our conduct into ahavas Hashem, grateful to Him that He allows us to be in this world where we can do teshuva, fix our middos, serve Hashem with joy and love, and build shemayim.


I hire a Jewish woman’s cleaning service and they come on the day that I do my Shabbos cooking. As a result, I have a specific schedule that I like done, so as not to be in the same rooms I am on while they are there. For some reason, they do not consistently follow my schedule and it has been several months. I began to feel like this was not working out and I was feeling as though I would have to find another cleaning service. My lower self was feeling angry as though they were in a power struggle with me, ignoring my wishes. But then I decided that I want to handle this with ahavas yisrael so the next time the cleaning service came, I left a note saying thank you for all the good things and how happy I am and writing down the schedule that I want them to keep…to room A then room B, etc. The workers read the note and said “But this is what I do!” and that day they pretty much followed the schedule. It wasn’t perfect but it did work. They felt as though I had given them a thank you note and I felt as though I had handled the matter with ahavas yisrael. I was not upset with the fact that it wasn’t perfect and now I think it will work out.


A friend of mine had suggested working on Ahavas Yisroel by sincerely complimenting others. Here are two stories that recently occurred.

About 6 weeks ago I told my manager at work about what a fine job a co worker of mine was doing. She said, "that's nice, why don't you put that in writing." So, I emailed her a very nice description of my coworker, and jokingly ended it by asking for a raise in salary on her behalf. I copy forwarded this to my manager's boss as well. Starting today, my co worker will be given a raise in position as well as a raise in salary.

The other story occurred last week. My family and I had begun going to a new dentist, who is not only Shomer Shabbos, but also a member of our shul. We were very impressed by the practise, and particularly by the young frum dental hygienist, who also happens to come from I very fine family I vaguely know. The day after I had my teeth cleaned, I decided to extend myself a little and call this wonderful family to tell them how much I enjoyed having my teeth cleaned by their daughter. I couldn't get through to them on the phone, so I dropped the idea of speaking to them. On Erev Shabbos, I thought," If I can't reach this family to give them nachas, at least I'll call the dentist himself to tell him how pleased my family is with his employee." The secretary answered, and of course the dentist was busy, so I left a detailed message with her. The next day, on Shabbos. my husband came home from shul, and said that our new dentist had approached him after shul, and said,"Your wife's compliment about our dental hygienist was very timely. Within minutes of her call, our office received a scathing message from an irate and picky patient regarding our dental hygienist. Your wife's call balanced for me this other call, and I didn't give it the chashivus I ordinarily might have."

****************************************** A member of my chabura is a teacher, and she told me that in general she does not like to speak to the previous year's teacher until she has spent 4 weeks with her students, so that she does not have preconceived notions about them. Someone accidentally gave her information about one of her students, which was not positive. In fact, the previous year's teacher had nothing at all positive to say about this particular child. Having gotten that information, when the child did something wrong, her immediate reaction would have, in the past, been negative, but since she has been focusing on Ahavas Yisroel, she has been able to, at least for a few minutes, been able to work hard not to treat him negatively.


I noticed that someone who would get angry with people helping her and seek revenge if they then withdrew from her gave me a feeling of revulsion. I examined myself closely because I had learned from the Baal Shem Tov that Hashem only shows us what we need in order to grow, so I asked myself where I was doing this. What I found was that I had an expectation of how people should be treating me that was very high and, if I did not receive such exalted treatment, I became upset and condemned the person or imagined reasons that were not true about why the person “slighted” me. This was all on a very low level, not really on a conscious level, but it kept me from being more engaged socially, made it hard to smile at people, and caused me to withdraw and be “anti-social” in that way. Now I see that my desire to be treated in a certain way is ego-oriented and childish and that when I feel that way, I need to remember not to stray after my own desires and contract my ego and bring Hashem back in the picture, asking myself what ahavas yisrael shall I do here to continue on with my ultimate purpose in the world.

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