CORRECTING AN OLD MISTAKE - IT'S IN OUR HANDS!
Each of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students was qualified as a giant in Torah and had reached the pinnacle of perfection in serving Hashem in his individual manner. Every student had a profound relationship with Hashem, which permeated his essence, his every thought and action, to the very fiber of his being. Rabbi Akiva’s students were proficient in and devoted to the teachings of their Rebbe.
Rabbi Akiva, who exemplified Ahavas Yisroel, had students who practiced profound levels of his teachings, yet were lacking in this very area when it came to their performance. They were unable to support other unique and flawless approaches and wanted everyone to follow their way only, precisely because of their tremendous Ahavas Yisroel. And, this is where the students were amiss and mistaken.
The Rebbe speaks about the erroneous ways of Rabbi Akiva’s students no less than 25 times (see sources above), emphasizing the magnitude of this matter. We too desire to have the same עבודה and devotion as Rabbi Akiva’s students, but we don’t want to repeat the same mistake. We must acknowledge that no two חסידים have the same way of התקשרות, nor do we need to.
Just because one person has another opinion, does not mean he is wrong. By the same token, one who believes he is right, doesn’t mean the other person is less right. In fact, אחדות is not about being the same or alike, but rather, it is about celebrating our differences, in harmony, and seeing the benefit and advantage of serving Hashem in many ways.
Let us be חסידים and let’s allow others to be חסידים as well, albeit, in their own way, by putting aside our differences no matter how enormous or how trivial.
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