INSIGHT: Arvus! How Sweet It Is!

We’re All in the Same Boat!

We’re All in the Same Boat!

Arvus. It truly is a big deal. A massive responsibility. Each of us is responsible for all other Jews.

To understand this better, it’s time for a Shazak Scenario, a true story that never actually happened (huh?!):

One sunny day, Larry, Moe and Coily (short for Yekusial) decided to chip in to buy a rowboat.

Coily: “Sure looks like a great sturdy boat.”

Larry: Sturdy? Is that all you can say?! It’s strong, solid, rugged and durable. And on top ot that it’s my favorite color.

Moe: “Hey… Let’s not waste time you guys… let’s take it for a ride!”

Before you know it, the happy trio were rowing away in the middle of Lake Mishugena. Suddenly, Coily takes a drill out of his back pocket … and… believe it or not, starts drilling a hole in the boat!

Larry: “Coily! What do you think you are doing?”

Coily: “Why don’t you mind your own business?” Harry shoots back. “I am drilling a hole on my part of the boat. I paid for it and I can do whatever I want!”

Moe: “Coily! We’re all in the same boat! If you sink, we all sink! Now, put away the drill… or else!”

Coily: “Oh. I think you got a point there. I think you’re right.”

Of course, as mentioned, this scenario never actually happened (we sink think). It’s what we call a parable – a story to teach us a lesson of Arvus – that we are all “in the same boat” and responsible for one another. In fact, this parable is mentioned in a book of Midrash, written by our great Sages, and called VaYikra Rabba.

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Shazak insight

Arvus! How Sweet It Is!

Contrary to popular opinion, a selfish person is not someone who sells fish. It’s someone who cares only about themselves. Being selfish may feel great and be the easy thing to do for the moment, yet, in the long run, helping others is a lot more rewarding. That rewarding feeling is sooooo sweet!

Now, for you Hebrew experts:

Our Sages say, “Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh LaZeh” (every Jew is responsible one for the other). “Areivim” has another translation – “sweet.” Indeed, it’s really a sweet deal!

The great Spanish Torah Sage, Rabbeinu Bachya (1255-1340) takes this one step further:

The word Arvus is related to one of the four species of Sukkos – called Aravah, the willow. Indeed, Aravah is the best example of Arvus. You see, each of the four species represent a different type of Jew. The Esrog, which has a good taste and smell, symbolizes the highest level – a Jew who achieved a lot of Torah knowledge and Mitzvos. Yet the Aravah, without a good taste or smell represents the lowest level of a Jew – not much Torah and hardly any Mitzvos.

So, is an Aravah important?! It sure is! If someone has the three kinds (Lulav, Esrog and Hadas), but is missing the Aravah, it’s not 75% Kosher… it’s 100% not Kosher!

That’s why Arvus is so important. It may be challenging to care for an “Aravah” type Jew, but it’s super-important! And let’s not forget – when someone succeeds in a really difficult task, it’s truly rewarding and SWEET!

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