The “Middat HaShavuah”, taken from this week’s Torah portion of Kedoshim, instructs us not to deliberately cause someone to fail. The verse reads as follows:

Parshah: קְדֹשִׁ֣ים 

Key Verse: וְלִפְנֵ֣י עִוֵּ֔ר לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן מִכְשֹׁ֑ל  

(ויקרא י״ט:י״ד) 

Middah: Do not deliberately cause someone to fail

This verse is a guiding principle in my life, both personally and professionally. The verse advises against causing harm to others, emphasising the importance of offering support and opportunities for success instead. The verse is found in Sefer Vayikrah, Chapter 19. Scholars refer to this chapter in the Torah as the “Holiness Code,” which is a set of moral imperatives that focus on our interpersonal relationships and encourages us to be compassionate and kind.

Sadly, some people find joy in others’ failures, a phenomenon known as “Schadenfreude.” “Schadenfreude” is a compound of the German words “Schaden”, which means to cause damage or harm and “Freude”, which means joy. In other words, Schadenfreude means taking joy or pleasure in watching someone fail. This behaviour contradicts the spirit of empathy and support to which we should all strive. We must resist the temptation to revel in others’ misfortunes and instead focus on being sources of strength and positivity in our community.

By embodying these principles, we can create a better world for ourselves and those around us. Our goal should be to build each other up and not to tear each other down. Our goal should be to help and to heal each other and not to hurt or harm each other. Our goal should be to find joy in each other’s successes, making kindness and empathy our guiding values. Collectively, we have a lot of work to do. Let each of us do our part to help make our world a better place. For me, it is not putting a stumbling block before the blind. For me, it is to help all those around me to thrive and to reach their greatest potential. What is your moral imperative, your guiding principle? What is your “Holiness Code”? How are you going to contribute to making our world a better place? These are the questions that we should all ask ourselves each and every day as we strive to create a more compassionate, supportive, and inclusive society. Parshat Kedoshim reminds us to commit ourselves to making a positive difference, one act of kindness at a time.

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach,

Moreh Alan