4. Interpersonal Relationships

The inner opponent’s greatest weapon is when the individual has a feeling of disconnectedness or separation. During such times, one of the challenges is to overcome selfishness and to fulfill the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the thread that binds people to each other. This emotion can work in a proactive or a responsive way.  It knows no barriers and transcends the limits of time and place.

 

We will define the power of love in the soul, and clarify emotions such as “compassion” and “empathy,” which, in contrast to a quick and demonstrative sympathy, may require effort and reflection to achieve. At the same time, the emotion of hate, while usually destructive, has its place. Hating the evil in another while embracing the good can be a tricky job, and once again Judaism has its unique take on the subject.

 

“As water mirrors the face, so too does the heart of one person to another.”

            —Proverbs

 

We will discuss some basic principles in relating to others, how to achieve a true connection rather than a superficial exchange, as well as obstacles—“bad energies”— that pollute interactions. At every step there is always an opponent waiting. In this case, the opponent comes to interfere with a pure connection, to cause arguments, break up friendships or marriages, or cause one to say the wrong thing. We will discuss how to be on guard and detect the warning signs before it’s too late.

 

“The greater the person, the greater the inner struggle.”

Talmud

 

In this teaching, there are two points: 1) When encountering someone great, we do not see his hidden challenges, which are also great; 2) When viewing someone with a destructive inclination, it is a sign of great potential. This view of a varying “inner opponent” provides another layer of interpretation to “Do not judge anyone until you have stood in their place.”