PIRKEI AVOS/ETHICS OF THE FATHERS _______________4:12
"Rabbi Eliezer ben Shamu’ah said: Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own; and the honor of your friend as dear to you as the reverence of your Rabbi; and the reverence of your Rabbi like the reverence of Heaven."
Respect is the foundation and essence of interpersonal relationships. The various relationships that we have require befitting levels of respect. Hence, the respect that we hold for each person should be commensurate to his or her relative status and stature. Yet, how do we determine the appropriate quality and quantity of respect for each person? In addition, why does the above Mishneh instruct us to raise the level of respect up one notch in the specified relationships?
Because of the vital role that relations play in our lives; and the critical role that respect plays in relationships - the yetzer hora (the negative impulse) seeks to undermine our relationships - by blinding us to the proper level of respect that we should give to others. For instance, teachers tend to view the best of their students as mediocre. Therefore, in order to correct this distortion the Mishneh advises: "Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own."
Likewise, we tend to decrease the fitting level of honor that we should accord our friends. Thus, the Mishneh teaches: "and the honor of your friend as dear to you as the reverence of your Rabbi." We also devalue the tremendous level of respect that we owe to our Rabbi. In fact, here, the level of respect upgrades to reverence. Therefore, the Mishneh directs us: "And the reverence of your Rabbi like the reverence of HaShem."
In conclusion, by aiming for a higher level of respect in all of our relationships, we approach the proper level of respect due to our students, friends, and rabbis. As a result, we will enhance our interpersonal relationships with peace, joy, and dignity. [Based on the commentary of Rav Chaim Voloshin to Pirkei Avos]
Today: Upgrade the level of respect in your relationships and bring harmony into your life.