Be a Mentch

Shavua Tov. One of the interesting historical stories related to today’s Parsha, is the relationship that existed between Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and the Roman Emperor Antoninus.

The latter was a descendant of Eisav and yet, had great admiration for רבי. When רבי wrote letters to אנטונינוס, he began with the words, כה אמר עבדך יהודה, so said your master, Yehuda, similar to the way Yakov addresses Eisav. Antoninus would reply with, וכי עבדי אתה, and do you think you are my servant!

Numerous times during our Galut, such relationships were critical for our survival. We must always maintain a cordial relationship with our Gentile neighbors. We only need to keep our distance from turning this relationship into a social relationship. Being cordial, well mannered, and acting like a “mensch”, is always the correct path to take.