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Parshat Shemini: The Antidote To Bullying

Society is becoming more aware of bullying and its detrimental consequences.

Its negative impact affects all demographics and can manifest itself in a wide range of ways.

It can take place in the workplace or within a family dynamic.

But perhaps no setting could be as dangerous as amongst young children and their peers.

It is at this critical developmental stage when bullying can cause serious damage to a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

But why would someone want to be cruel to another human being?

Why would anyone take joy from insulting or intimidating anyone, especially someone who is weaker?

At the root of the problem is a deep seated insecurity felt by the bully.

The reason we want to belittle someone else is because we feel small.

We want to hurt someone because we’re in pain.

The mistake we make is that we believe that by putting someone else down, we are lifting ourselves up.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

However there is another way to heal our deep feeling of inadequacy.

It’s completely counterintuitive. But it is the only solution.

In fact, it is exactly the opposite of bullying.

It is captured in one phrase by Maimonides in his description of the practical application of the Mitzvah to “Love your fellow as yourself”: “One is therefore obliged to speak in praise of ones fellow”.

Instead of belittling someone in order to compensate for your insecurities, lift them up by complimenting them.

It is only then that we begin to heal.

For in reality all the Jewish People are like “one body”. Consequently, by praising others we are in effect praising ourselves.


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