There is a wonderful teaching by Rav Nachman of Breslov in which he writes:
Know that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they are not bad! If you can just find this little bit of good and judge them favorably, you really can elevate them and swing the scales of judgment in their favor. This way you can bring them back to God. (Likutey Moharan I:282)
It is amazing to think that in each and everyone of us there is something special. Rav Nachman is asking us to be less judgative and more curious about the people around us.
I was thinking about this Torah when reading Emor, this week’s Torah portion. There we read a whole lot of laws regarding the person and conduct of the Priests. To many this is troubling in the adulation of one particular form of perfection. But in thinking about it this week I came to enjoy the idea that the Priest might represent something special as part of the whole of the people of Israel. Maybe our collective sense of being special is connected to the Priest being in our midst. Like Rav Nachman’s teaching, if each of us is a microcosm of Israel, there be a little part in each of us that special like a Priest. Like the Priest there is that little bit of special that is set a side and is supposed to be treated with extra care and even restrictions. What would it be like to not only be constantly looking for that little bit of special in the people we love, but even in the worst people? In the process of this openhearted search we might even discover that very special bit of goodness in ourselves.