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29.04.2014 10:17    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parachah  kedoshim  



Message for Today

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself – Generalities and Specifics

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Leviticus 9:18) – Rabbi Akiva commented, ‘This is a major principle of the Torah.’”


Our sages, in setting out to delineate this mitzvah, bring the story of the non-Jew who, wishing to convert, approached Hillel the Elder to have him teach him the entire Torah on one foot. Said Hillel, “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire Torah. Go learn the rest” (Shabbat 31a).


As Rashi explains, all the mitzvoth mentioned in the Torah are included in this. Moreover, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his Mesillat Yesharim says of the saintly person who loves G-d, and whose entire interest is to bring contentment to his Maker, that he can accomplish this “by always doing good to one’s fellow men and not doing them harm, physically, monetarily or psychologically. Physically this means always striving to help them however one can, and to lighten their burdens… Monetarily it means helping out one’s fellow man as much as one can afford, and saving him from harm. Psychologically it means striving to bring him as much contentment as possible. This includes doing whatever one can to see that one’s friend receives respect, and certainly includes not distressing him in any way, and it also includes seeking to encourage harmony between people.” (Mesillat Yesharim, Chapter 19).


Indeed, Hillel’s advise to “love your neighbor as yourself” was not just a private matter. It did not just concern that particular convert’s receiving instruction from Hillel that the entire goal of the Torah and of Jewishness is to make one a good person. Rather, the idea of goodness in the world, as revealed in the human being as an individual, is also a matter for the Jewish People in the aggregate. What distinguishes our people down through the generations, what sanctifies G-d’s name in the world, is our being a great and holy nation with a unique soul, as Rav Kook taught:


“The essence of being benevolent to all, without any earthly limit, whether in the quantity of those benefiting or in the quality of the benevolence, constitutes the inner kernel of the soul of the Jewish People. This is Israel’s inheritance, and their ancestral legacy.” (Orot 139)


The further along we march on the upward path towards national rebirth, the more we will uncover the soul and the light of Israel. All mankind will then recognize and appreciate and respect the Jewish People, whose entire raison d’etre is to spread G-d’s light through the world, as torchbearers of the father of our people Abraham, who proclaimed G-d’s name in the world – a proclamation that continues on forever.


Looking forward to complete salvation.







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