Peace and Love
Rivka Olenick
Hillel said: "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the created beings, and bringing them near to the Torah." (Avos, Chapter 1:12)
What does it mean to be of the disciples of Aaron? There are many people who have tremendous guilt because they sin and cannot overcome their sins. And others may know of their sins and judge them harshly. We all sin - so why should we think that the sins of another so much worse than our own sins? In Pirkei Avos, God says of Aaron: "He walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many away from sin." Hillel said of Aaron: "When he would feel or hear that a person had wickedness within him, or that he would commit sins, Aaron would always greet him first, become friendly with him, and speak with him frequently." Aaron was a compassionate person and looked past a person's sins to find that person's essence. How was Aaron able to find the person's essence? This is difficult. Most people look to find the person's sins and then use those sins against that person. This is a quick way to categorize the other person negatively. By categorizing another person, you purposely avoid finding his essence, his true self. Instead, you choose to see only his sins. The part of him/her that should be recognized as a selem elokim, a being created by God - you ignore.
How was Aaron able to greet the sinner, become friendly with him and speak with him frequently? Why did Aaron choose this method? It seems that when we choose to look past a person's sins and show sincerity and interest in the person - the person, himself feels lifted. At the same time the person feels guilt. However, a little guilt is good because it acts as a motivator. The guilt motivates the person to feel shame and embarrassment over their sins. "Oh, if he found out how much I really sinned - he would have nothing to do with me ever. Now is my chance to prove that I can overcome my sin and be respected." Every person wants to be respected.
Aaron pursued peace which seems like the logical and rational approach for mankind, but why should one love peace? Why was Aaron called a lover of peace? Why did he choose this very compassionate way of drawing another person near? This very compassionate way is what causes peace between people. And the way Aaron pursued this peace proved he was a lover of peace. And one who loves peace also loves created beings. Because in order to pursue peace you need to have who to pursue it with.
All beings created by God, are created to live life with the highest purpose. For the Jewish person it is to bring others near to the Torah - through peaceful ways and ways that promote love and unity between people. The same love that we are asked to use in order to "love your neighbor as yourself" which also produces unity.
We were all created for the same purpose, which is to be the teachers of Torah and to be the light unto all the nations. This is our real job.

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