44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Berakhot 17aBabylonian Talmud
Abaye was wont to say: One must always be shrewd and utilize every strategy in order to achieve fear of Heaven and performance of mitzvot. One must fulfill the verse: “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) and take steps to increase peace with one’s brethren and with one’s relatives, and with all people, even with a non-Jew in the marketplace, despite the fact that he is of no importance to him and does not know him at all (Me’iri), so that he will be loved above in God’s eyes, pleasant below in the eyes of the people, and acceptable to all of God’s creatures. Tangentially, the Gemara mentions that they said about Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai that no one ever preceded him in issuing a greeting, not even a non-Jew in the marketplace, as Rabban Yoḥanan would always greet him first.
Notes and References
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