Three boys followed the elderly man’s penetrating gaze and listened attentively to his words. He was their father; they were his devoted sons. He was traveling far away for an extended period of time, and as the time of his return was unknown, he was leaving explicit instructions. He wanted his boys to disseminate his scholarly ideas and ideologies to improve the world around them.

That night, his sons reminisced about their shared childhood. Their father was a genius, brimming with unique theories and philosophies. Yet first and foremost, the message imbued to them from when they were young toddlers was about the love and responsibility they ought to feel for each other. This fostered the strong palpable love they shared, which so many others envied.

As time passed, the boys pondered the best approach to carrying out their father’s wishes. They chewed over his ideologies and processed his many ideas. Three brothers, each unique, each so special—each one so different from the other. Each of their creative minds found a different twist to their father’s words; each of their hearts led them towards a different path. All true, yet all so diverse.

Three brothers, each unique, each so special. Each of their creative minds found a different twist to their father’s wordsThe brothers explained to one another their take on matters. And each one strongly felt that his brothers were misinterpreting their father’s legacy. How it hurt them so that their dear brothers could be so mistaken. And so they explained, and explained—to no avail. Each stood their ground. Their fierce love for their father (and brothers) wouldn’t allow them to simply follow their own path while leaving the others behind. Their brothers must know what they so clearly saw as the truth.

The situation rapidly deteriorated. The love was still there, but the brothers could respect each other no longer.

This would have carried on, if not for a wise friend. He met the brothers and asked them to close their eyes and recall their earliest memory of their beloved father. Without understanding where they were heading, they complied. One recalled his father kissing him at night, telling him how precious family is. The other two recalled their father stopping a squabble and warning them to always look out for each other.

The wise friend sighed. “You are all trying to spread your father’s wisdom. Yet in the process, you are overlooking the most important thing your father tried to imbue in you—respect for one another. True love doesn’t force its opinions on the other, but makes room for his path alongside yours in harmony.”

Each of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples was a scholar in his own right; each felt that he, and only he, truly understood his master’s ideas. Their love for each other caused them to try and force their understanding on their peers. But their love was misguided; it allowed room for only their own path. They lacked the understanding that true love means loving someone different, and respecting these difference. Realizing that another’s understanding may be very different than your own, but very much the same—in the sense that it, too, is truth.

Dear brothers and sisters, we all share the same one G‑d and the same one Torah. Yet we are each unique, and each of us has a different path pulling his or her heart closer to G‑d. Let us not forget what is most important to a father. Our Father in heaven is waiting for us to embrace our diverseness; to make space beside our own path for another’s.

I have no doubt that is what our Father is waiting for. And then He will envelope us all in His embrace and show us how the many paths all stem from the same place—love for Him. Infinite truth has infinite expressions.

We are all so different. Yet all the same.