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Vayeitzei: Metrics To Measure A Good Jew

What metrics are used to measure a good Jew?

No doubt there are a wide range of opinions on this matter.

However, there must be one measure that is more accurate than others.

I recently heard the following story which seems very close to that mark.

A child was being bullied at a particular school in Brooklyn NY during the 70s.

The boy’s parents wrote to the administration, urging them to address the issue.

Unfortunately, the school for whatever reason, did not manage to deal appropriately with the problem.

Distraught, the mother wrote a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe informing him of the episode involving her son.

The Rebbe promptly conveyed a very strong message to the school.

He said that if the problem was not immediately addressed in an appropriate manner, he would personally visit the school to offer his help.

A few weeks later the Rebbe was due to address a large Chassidic gathering, with many thousands expected to attend.

To the surprise and dismay of many, the Rebbe cancelled the gathering.

When asked by the Chassidim for an explanation, he said that he had been informed that the young boy who was being bullied was having his Bar Mitzvah on that Saturday.

Consequently, the Rebbe continued that He did not want to address the Chassidic gathering, fearing that this might divert some people from attending the young boy’s Bar Mitzvah celebration, resulting in hurting his feelings.

There are indeed many metrics used to measure the greatness of a Jew.

For some it would be scholarship or piousness. For others it would be ritual adherence or being charitable.

Yet at the epicenter of all religious experience and purpose lies our sensitivity to another human being.

Our sages best capture this idea with the phrase “Were not the mitzvot given so that man might be refined by them”.

The ultimate litmus test for measuring our Jewishness is the degree to which we are sensitive to others.

Especially toward those who are more vulnerable than you.


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