This learning should be L'zecher Neshamos
Yaakov Naftali ben Avraham ZT"L
Eyal ben Uriel ZT"L
Gilad Michael ben Ofir ZT"L
The Power of Unity and Friendship
It is interesting that the verse “love your neighbor as yourself” end in the words “I am the Lord”. This begs the question: why do we need to know that at this juncture? What is its relevance?
There is a beautiful story about 2 friends that brings out the point.
Two young men grew up as close friends in the Roman Empire. One lived in Rome and one in Syria. Once, when the fellow from Rome was visiting Syria, he was accused of being a spy. He was brought to the Syrian Emperor, who sentenced him to death. Moments before his execution, he was asked if he had any last requests.
"I'm an innocent man, but if I'm going to die, at least let me go back to Rome, settle my affairs, and say goodbye to my family. Then I'll come back and you'll execute me."
The Emperor laughed. "What are you crazy? Who's going to guarantee that you are going to come back?"
“I have a friend here,” he replied, “who'll stand in for me. If I don't come back, you can kill him instead."
The Empower was stunned. "This I've got to see. Bring in your friend!"
Sure enough, his friend agreed to be his guarantor. "I'll give you 60 days” said the emperor, “If you're not back by the dawn of the 60th day, your friend is dead."
So, he raced back to his family to say goodbye and put his affairs in order, and then started back with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, there was no wind at sea, the sailboat was delayed, and by the time the Jew arrived in Syria, dawn of the 60th day was breaking.
The jailors took out the friend for execution. Finally, by 9:00 a.m., as they were just about to get started, the guy from Rome came running in. "Wait! Stop! I'm back. Don't kill him. I'm the spy!"
The executioner let the fellow from Syria go and was about to take the Jew from Rome in his place.
"Wait a minute," the guarantor argued. "You can't kill him. His time limit was up. I'm the guarantor. Kill me.”
The two friends were equally adamant. "Kill me instead."
The executioner didn't know what to do. Finally, they took the case to the Emperor. He listened to the friends arguing back and forth, "Kill me, I'm the guarantor!" "No, I'm the spy, kill me!"
In wonder and amazement, the Emperor turned to the two of them and said, "I'll let you both go, but on one condition: Make me a third friend!"
That's friendship in Judaism, and that's what true unity brings us. And that's why the verse that says, "Love your neighbor," also says "I am the L-rd." Unity and friendship among G-d's children is so precious that G-d says, "If you love each other, I want to be a third friend."
When we are united as a People, we have the power of G-d behind us. Miracles will happen. King Ahab was the greatest conqueror the Jews ever had, even though he spread idol worship through the land. Why? Because there was unity amongst the people. On the other hand, King David and King Saul, very righteous leaders, lost their battles because there was no achdus, unity.
Infighting and strife amongst the Jewish people is our most insidious and debilitating enemy. If we're united, the Almighty is with us. If we're divided, we're on our own.
Today, think how you can “be there” for your friends, family and People. What one act can you do to bring about more unity, even if it’s by standing up for, forgiving, or apologizing to one person?