EE = PPB Tools to Build Unconditional Love

Dear friends,

This past week’s Learn, Live, Excel message, “You Couldn’t Make This Up,” elicited more thoughts and comments than any other to date. It clearly touched something about which many people feel strongly.

The responses were varied.

The majority agreed with what was written and hoped that many would read the message and grow/change as a result. I join those readers in their wishes and hopes.

Some wrote that the essay ignored the beautiful practices of the Syrian community in particular and the Jewish community at large. I agree with those readers as well. Each and every day our communities perform spectacular and unparalleled acts of kindness and generosity to others. We celebrate, and are humbled by, our greatness. We must, therefore, be courageous in our efforts to grow and become better.

A small percentage of the responses felt the examples focused on the more religious segments of our community. They are correct. I consider myself part of that constituency; a group that is intensely engaged in Torah learning and the pursuit of rigorous, daily growth in Torah and misvot. I understand the following: The more you love Hashem, the more you must love Hashem’s people. The more Torah you know, the more is expected of you. And that’s the way it should be.

One response caused me to take a walk on the beach and think about where and when I have failed and continue to fail on this issue. I walked for a long time thinking about what I must do to become a person who unconditionally loves and respects all. I thought about the fact that I love Hashem intensely, His Torah is my oxygen and my lifeline. I thought about how each of His people is spectacular, contributing to the furtherance of His creation in a way exclusive to them.

So I’ve written this week’s essay to me – first and foremost.

These are the things I will work very hard to incorporate into my own life, so that I can ultimately stand in front of Borei Olam (G-d) and say I helped heal our people, allow for their magnificence to shine fully, and to bring Mashiah (our ultimate redemption).

I’ll start with what I highlighted in last week’s Live Learn Excel:


I will Look at the positive traits of those around me. I will see the beauty of each person, and until I become the person I must become, I will ignore everything else.

I will keenly Observe the intolerance that goes on around me. I will attempt to stop it each time I see it; especially if it is expressed by someone of stature or authority.

I will Verify to my children – consistently, in my words and actions, that unconditional love for others is not selective, rather it applies to everyone – especially those who are different. I will teach each child: Be yourself, but love everyone.

I will Engage people with whom I disagree. I will partner with them, to learn from their perspective and to teach them mine.


I will work hard to become a Perpetual People Builder (PPB). I will remind myself each day that every encounter (EE) with another human being offers me the opportunity to help that person grow and to affirm his/her sense of uniqueness and self love.

If I agree with someone on an issue, I will add unexpected words of kindness and appreciation to our conversation.

If I’m shaking hands on a business deal, or community agreement, I will do so with a more engaged smile, a warmer handshake, and more direct eye contact.

If I disagree with someone, or have established that we will not be working together, I will do so with the image of the giants, Hillel and Shamai, as my guides:

I will reject the collaboration of efforts, but never reject the person. We will separate regarding the issue at hand, but never become distant emotionally. We will walk away from each other with a sense of unconditional love and mutual respect – knowing that we have uncoupled our paths, but not our lives.

Think! You’re on Candid Camera

Although I know that Borei Olam sees and knows all that is – sometimes I may forget. Therefore, I will conduct myself with the perspective that everything I do and say, and all that I think is being recorded – with a direct feed to those I love and respect.

Every action I take is being immediately broadcasted to my children.

Every word I speak is being sent, unedited, to the men and women whose opinions are important to me.

Every thought I consider is being seen in HD by those who trust me and depend on me.

 If each action, word and thought is approached this way, I will unquestionably grow and eventually become the person I must be.

Let’s follow the words of the Shelah Hakadosh and love each other as much as we love Hakadosh Baruh Hu (G-d) and let’s learn from each other.

Live, Learn, Excel is read by several thousand people each week. Please send us stories of the unconditional love you’ve given or received, or that which you’ve seen others give and receive.

Let’s inspire and help each other become people defined by our unconditional love of others!

Shabbat Shalom and Warmest Regards,



One Response to “EE = PPB Tools to Build Unconditional Love”

  1. Yankl D. Says:

    A git voch Ricky,
    As you know I don’t come from a Syrian background. Life takes us on many journeys and this one was an eye opener….I was introduced to this community.
    A little background: I come from the FSU, from a non religious family (of course) Became shoymer shabbes (sorry shomer shabbat 🙂 at the age of 17 and all the other observing practices followed from there. I went to Yeshiva University (modern orthodoxy) then to yeshiva in Israel (main stream yeshivish black hat), my rabbi is an admur (leader of chassidic group), I wear a beckeche and a black hat on shabes and allow myself to wear shorts during the week. Some call me confused, but I respectfully disagree.
    What I have observed in many communities is that a lot of hatred drivers are the external factors, the main one is dress code. My favorite story on this topic is about my former roommate M.. Someone from yeshivish community gave me a call as a shiduch reference to find out information about him. One of the first questions was: “I heard he is a nice guy but there are rumors that he is unstable” Knowing this fellow for a number of years I never noticed anything unusual (except snoring 🙂 I asked what was the reason of his “defect”. The answer was totally unexpected: “I heard that he wears jeans”. I literally almost fell of the chair I was sitting on. I was absolutely enraged by this answer, here is a guy who prays 3 times a day with a minyan, learns everyday, and is a real besare mench (good-harted person who does plausible actions) and even more so my closest friend is accused of being unstable because of wearing jeans. This is ridiculous!!!
    This story is not the only one I have, they are many more and on different topics. But all of them have one thing in common: intolerance. It bothered me tremendously, so I went to a chassidic admor (leader of a certain movement, not my rabbi) and this admor happens to be one of the most machmir once, one with white socks and a huge shtraimel (big furry chassidic hat), to discuss this issue with him. I asked him a very precise question: why is it that every time I am not dressed black and white and walk into a chassidic synagogue to pray 90% of the people start staring at me, projecting judgmental looks on their faces as if I am a shaigetz (hareidi mocking nickname for non religious Jews)? He answered me with a brilliant question: “Why is it when a chassid walks into a modern orthodox synagogue, wearing a shtraimel, beckeche and white socks, 90% of the people start staring at him with a look on their faces projecting “look at him, so full of himself, dresses like a polish man 300 years ago, what does he want to prove, etc.”
    It has been 4 years since this conversation, I tried to objectively observe both the chareidi and more modern communities on various controversial issues. Unfortunately, the rabbi was right, the hatred and dislike of each other goes both ways and very often people in modern communities, which claim to be more cultural objective and tolerant, are more aggressive towards the chareidim than chareidim towards modern.
    I had a privilege of learning with my morning chavruta in one sefardic synagogue, and with my night chavruta in another. Both synagogues are Syrian/sefardic but in one of them I feel that the congregants are more ashkenaz then I am, wearing black and white and a hat 24/7 and in the other synagogue I see guys whom I recognize from the subway and Midtown who don’t wear a kippa during the day. And yet disregarding all the differences people in both of these synagogues sit and vigorously learn Torah and share the same values. I don’t know the inside politics, but one doesn’t have to be a genius to figure out that congregants of these synagogues have a lot a enmity against each other due to there religious disagreements. The irony is that people in both places are wonderful, warm, caring, motivated in Torah growth and are outstanding in personal qualities.
    I would like to conclude with a proverb from our sages: “Before judging someone else judge yourself”. We very often see how the chareidim criticize us, but don’t notice how judgmental and intolerant we are to them. We don’t have to agree with their hashkafot and minhagim but we have to learn to respect them for according to the Torah their position is just as valid as ours. (I am not referring to mishugoim from your stories, those people need a shrink) If we do it one by one, from both sides of the barricades we will learn to eliminate the sinat chiman that inflicted our communities and we will merit to see Mashiyah tzidkenu in our days.

    Yankl D.

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