Does love your neighbor apply only to Jews? – Responsa from the Inner Dimension
- The customary translation of veahavta l’reyacha kamocha–“you shall love your neighbor as yourself”, implies all neighbors, but is not accurate.
- The complete passage in the Torah reads: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart? You shall not take revenge or feel resentment against the children of your people, you shall love your companion [reyacha] as yourself.” which equates your brother with your companion.
- Reyacha does not mean neighbor it means close companion.
- Jews are commanded to respect all beings and not harm anyone.
- Although “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” does not apply to non-Jews we are commanded to love all of the creations.
Be Loving to Your Neighbor – from Jewish Virtual Library
- Rambam Hilchos Deah: Laws of Counsel – “It is a mitzvah for every human to love each and everyone from Israel as he loves his own body. As it is written, “be-loving to your neighbor (as one) like yourself”, therefore one must sing his praises, and show concern for his financial well-being, as he would for his own well-being and as he would for his own honor. Anyone who aggrandizes himself at the expense of another person has no portion in the world to come.”
- Ramban – Loving one’s neighbor as oneself is an impossible exaggeration as proved by Rabbi Akiva’s teaching that your life comes before the life of your friend. It means love your neighbor with all of the things that you love yourself.
- Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a: the story of Hillel and the convert – Rashi’s commentary on “That which is despicable to you do not do” refers to not abandoning His words, for you find it despicable when your friend abandons your words.
- The SHeLah notes the use of love in davening in “He who chooses His people Israel with love” and “He who loves His people Israel.”
- Most of the commandments depend on loving one’s friend as one’s self, such as tzedakeh, tithing, leaving the gleanings of the field, good faith in business, the prohibition against taking interest, and many others. Masy middos require this love as well including: mercy, forgiveness, forbearance, compassion, giving one the benefit of the doubt, not standing idly by the blood of your kinsman, distancing one’s self from gossip and slander, distancing one’s self from frivolous clowning, jealousy, hatred, or, checking ones anger, and not seeking honors, as well as many more.
The Opinions of Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azzai – from VBM Torah
- Rabbi Akiva taught “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” is the greatest principle in the Torah, while Ben Azzai taught, ‘This is the book of the generations of man’ (Bereishit 5:1) is an even greater principle.
- Rabbi Akiva focuses on a precept that applies specifically to Am Yisrael – “your neighbor” refers to Jews – while Ben Azzai points to a tenet that applies to every human being.
- The convert who came to Hillel understood that every structure needs to stand firmly upon two legs. While he insisted that he could therefore not be a “complete” Jew, he still wanted to acquire at least the one leg. Shamai understood that nothing can stand on only one leg, but Hillel wanted the man to be inspired to fulfill the mitzvos between men even though those between man and G-d would be unavailable to him until he fully converted.
- “The Gemara (Shabbat 30b) explains that Hillel was known as gentle while Shamai was known as strict. Yet Shamai taught “Greet every person with a pleasant countenance.” Shammai maintained that one who wishes to study Torah should seek out a teacher and when someone comes to study he should be warmly accepted.
Sefer Chabibi – from the teachings of Shlomo Carlebach
- “and you shall love [unto] your fellow as you love yourself, I Am Hashem.” is the highest expression of holiness.
- Ask your students to close their eyes and listen to the verse as you read it to them, and then think of someone in relation to this verse. Then ask them if the person they thought about was in the room. Almost always the majority of people thought about someone who was not presently in the room. The implications of this are interesting. “Reb Shlomo ztz”l taught that the fellow person that the Torah is commanding you to love as you love yourself, is the person who is next to you right now! Love them ‘for no reason,'”
- The ‘Tzemach Tzeddek’ in his sefer Derech Mitzvotecha teaches that we are obligated to overlook the imperfections and mistakes of others as we would do for ourselves. This parallels our relationship with G-d as we ask him to overlook or faults.
- “Demonstrate that this is your truth in your own life, that you will not hate your brother in your heart, that you will not take revenge nor bear a grudge against him, but rather you will love him as you love yourself, then you will merit that Hashem will also treat you in this way.”
Love your Neighbor to Maintain Unity – from Torah.org
- The parable of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Several people were sailing in a ship. One takes out a drill and begins drilling into the floor of the ship. “What are you doing?” the others ask excitedly. “Why should you care?” was the reply. “Aren’t I drilling only under my place?” teaches our dependence on each other.
- Klal Yisroel refers to all of the Jewish people as one unit.
- The punitive laws and the laws of damages are intended to preserve civility in society and unity.
- Love your fellow as yourself; this is a major tenet in the Torah since it underscores the basic premise that its goal is to maintain unity.
What’s Bothering Rashi on Leviticus 19: 18 – from Shema Yisrael Torah Network
- “Rashi is not relating to a difficulty in the words of the Torah, nevertheless Rashi does comment. His message is clearly an educational one – teaching us the centrality of the mitzvah in the Torah of caring about others.”
- The are several difficulties on the passage including: how can emotions be commanded?, Is loving another as oursaelves possible? How can we love another as ourselves and guard our own life first?
- The Sefer Hachinuch (1200’s) teaches the psychological principle that “After one’s actions the heart follows” which means that actions will eventually create emotional reality.
- “V’ahavta l’reiacha komocha” means love your fellow sincve he is like you.
- “So its best meaning is not to do negative things against your neighbor. This is both reasonable and textually supported.” This also answers the contradiction raised by the two statements of Rabbi Akiva since saving your own life does not do anything intentionally wrong to your friend.
The Apter Rebbe Bends the Rules for Ahavas Yisroel – from Rabbi Yissocher Frand
- The Apter Rebbe, known as the Oheiv Yisroel, taught that every parsha alludes to Ahavas Yisroel. His talmidim asked for the reference in parshas Balak. The Rebbe answered that BaLaK is an acronym for the words V’ahavta L’Reacha Kamocha. When the talmidim questioned the Rebbe’s spelling he replied “You have been my Chossid all these years. Haven’t you learned yet that when it comes to ‘Ahavas Yisrael’, you can’t be so precise about the exact lettering (ven es kumpt tzu Ahavas Yisrael ken mi’nisht medakdek zayn mitt de’oysiyos)”?
- The Appter Rebbe was teaching his students to be forgiving of others and not strict in their judgement of others.
- Strict justice impedes Ahavas Yisroel.
- The Mishna [Avos 5:22] teaches: “Those who have a good eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul (ayin tova, ruach nemucha, nefesh shefalah) are among the disciples of our forefather Avraham. Those who have an evil eye, an arrogant spirit and a greedy soul (ayin ra’ah, ruach gevoha, nefesh rechava) are among the disciples of the wicked Bilaam. Rabbeinu Yona asks how we know that Avraham Avinu had an ‘ayin tova’. Rabbeinu Yona cites as proof the pasuk “and he took a calf, tender and good” [Bereshis 18:7]. When the 3 Angels came, Avraham went and slaughtered for each his own head of cattle and prepared for each his own tongue with mustard.
- Rav Matisyahu Solomon explains that there is a difference between a normal “baal chessed” [kind person] and a person who has an “Ayin Tova” as a baal chessed fills a person’s requested need while someone with an ayin tovah thinks of what they would need in the same situation.
- Bilaam is the opposite of an ayin tovah since he begrudges people the good things they have.
- “Avos D’Rav Nassan [Chapter 7, Mishna 1] states: “‘Let impoverished people be members of your household’ –- like the practice of Iyov. However, when the tragedies befell Iyov he asked the Almighty ‘Did I not provide food and drink and clothing to those who were hungry and thirsty and naked?’ But the Almighty responded, ‘Iyov you have not yet reached half the level of generosity of Avraham.” The difference is that Iyov was a baal chessed while Avraham was a baal ayin tova.
The Switch – a short story for children about the importance of caring about the feelings of others
Discussion points for loving your neighbor – from Challah Crumbs including:
- Ask for ways you can fulfill this mitzvah.
- This mitzvah can be hard. How can it be a fair commandment?
The who, how and why of love your neighbor – from the Torah and the Self
- Love of your neighbor has limits, it is not with all your heart, soul and might like the love of G-d.
- Love of your neighbor means valuing yourself as well as others.
What does the Torah mean by “Love your neighbor like yourself? – from Chaya From Israel
- “The actual translation is “Love TO your FRIEND as yourself.”
- Like every mitzvah we could not be commanded to do something that is impossible.
- If we feel good about ourselves it is easier to feel gor about others.
- Use positive jealousy- use your jealousy to improve yourself by admiring others’ achievements. We see this positive jealousy with Rochel and Leah.
A colloquial telling of the story of Hillel and the convert – from the Art of Amazement
Personality Clash – A video for children answers why it is worthwhile to get along.
Heroes of Israel: The Chicken Lady – One woman created a tremendous chessed project when she remembered her own lack.
Karen Armstrong: Let’s Revive the Golden Rule – reviews the catalysts that can drive the world’s faiths to rediscover the Golden Rule.
Yeshiva Boys Choir sings V’Ahvata
Rebbitzen Harris and the Ahavas Yisroel Groups
Teaching Children to be Givers – by Rebbetzin Heller
The Parameters of Loving One’s Neighbor – by Rabbi Hanoch Teller