Taco, Tequila, and Torah Tuesdays – 02/06/2018
In this week’s Taco, Tequila, and Torah Tuesdays, Rabbi Jack Melul focused on the topic of respect. Mainly discussing self-respect and respect to others. Here are two simple questions, why is it important to be respectful? Why is it so powerful? The answer is, it has a huge influence. By being respectful you get respect back, and there are only good outcomes that come from being respectful.
There are 4 powers of respect:
Respect builds a very strong connection between people and strengthen relationships because it shows the value and importance people give to each other. Respect also makes people feel validated which results in happiness. Take rebellious teenagers for example, until the time they reached that age they most likely were treated as a little kid who do not know much and because of that felt invalidated and disrespected, making them unhappy. Due to that they rebel in order to get attention, which they do, but it is the negative kind. Getting that respect from others will make them more validated, happier, and less rebellious.
Take another example, in hebrew wealth is osher (עושר) with the letter ayin (ע) in the beginning, happiness is osher (אושר) with the letter alef (א) in the beginning. The same is with the word light, or (אור) and skin, or (עור). Our skin covers the inner light. The letter ayin (ע) represents something more physical, while the letter alef (א) represents something more spiritual. In Hebrew the word happiness means to be validated, and by that people achieve internal happiness. For that validation and happiness go together.
Here is a short story about respect:
During Rabbi Jack’s Yeshiva days this Rabbi who is extremely respected by his community walks into a library extremely late at night. As he goes to get in a student is holding the door and not letting him in. It happened that that night the students were having a water fight making a mess everywhere. One student ran into the library and thinks his friend is after him so he holds the door shut. The student keeps asking who is at the door and although the Rabbi keeps saying it is him, the student doesn’t believe him. Eventually he lets the Rabbi walk in. This is where true respect is shown, the Rabbi walks in while looking down and covering his eyes, he walks straight to the shelf where the book he needs is at, takes the book, and walks right out, guaranteeing that he cannot see who the student is in order to not disrespect him.
Respect is acknowledging someone has worth. In Hebrew the word respect is kavod (כבוד), which comes from the root kaved (כבד), meaning heavy. It is given to the word respect because we understand that a person is something that is valuable and important and not something that is taken lightly.
Respect is not just something you give to others it is also something you give to yourself and it is important to know how valuable you are. A person is loved because they were formed in the formation of g-d. The more people understand that they are not just randomness and that they actually have a purpose in this world the more they are going to respect themselves. The very first step of gaining self-respect is recognizing and understanding who you are. One must appear the same as the way they really are. The way you look on the outside affects the way you feel on the inside. This comes into effect in the way we speak, act, and the people we hang around with, not just the way we dress. This fully translates to the way people view, act, and talk to us. Others often disrespect a person that disrespects oneself.
However, just like most other things in Judaism, respect can be damaging and should be used to an extant. People who demand respect very often become very arrogant and develop a big ego. In Judaism we discuss three things that take a person out of this world, not literally, but spiritually. Those are jealousy, desire, and ego*, with ego being respect that is taken to an extreme. By being taken out of this world spiritually you are not living your life to the fullest and are not maximizing your potential and purpose. Always remember that there is a fine line between self-respect and ego. True self-respect comes from knowing your worth, while ego comes from lacking self-value.
A person must know that you must respect any person that comes to your house, and think of them as the leaders of the Jewish people**. But suspect them as well. A person who is able to respect those that are around them with the right balance lives a very balanced life style that is full respect, which means it is full of value and admiration, simply because of who they are. When it comes to self-respect remember that the world was created for you. There is a saying that one should always remember. The day you are born is the day g-d decided that the world could not go on without you***. However, do not let it go to your head and affect the way you treat others and yourself.
* Ethics Of Our Fathers 4,24
** Tractate Kallah 9
*** Rabbi Nachman of Breslov