KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Love Thy Neighbor
- In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren
(Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
“Love your fellow as you would
yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) In the
Talmud (Shabbos 31a; Compiled 200 CE -
500 CE), Hillel explained to a convert
that the concept of “what is distasteful
to you, do not do to your fellow” is the
crux of the entire Torah and the rest is
commentary to properly performing the
mitzvah of loving your fellow.
However, the Sforno (Rabbi Ovadia ben
Yaakov, Bologna, Italy; 1475 - 1550) is
not satisfied with this interpretation.
If properly translated the verse is
understood “love to your fellow as you
love yourself.” What is the extra
reference of the word “to”?
The Sforno juxtaposes the verse “Love to
your fellow as you would yourself” with
the verse that follows, “My (G-d)
statutes you shall keep.” (Leviticus
19:19) The term “statutes” refers to
laws whose reasons are beyond human
comprehension and the statute in the
above verse refers to not mixing animal
breeds, keeping apart different crops in
the field so they don’t mix, and not
wearing a garment of wool and linen.
How do you love your fellow as yourself?
When you recognize your fellow has
submitted himself to the will of G-d and
even upholds those precepts he cannot
possibly understand, when you look at
what he has achieved and recognize you
share those very same goals, then you
will look at him with awe and love him
as you do yourself.
Loving your fellow must begin with a
sense of awe. It is an awe that springs
from an understanding of what your
fellow strives to achieve and has
achieved and a kinship because you
aspire to achieve the very same.
The Torah cannot command you to have a
certain emotion, particularly one as
difficult as loving another as you would
yourself. Rather, the Torah commands you
to recognize the greatness in your
fellow to the point you will be in awe
of his achievements and will naturally
come to “Love your fellow as you would
The Torah neither asks nor desires a
baseless love for our fellow man but
rather a love derived from our
recognition of the greatness in others.
KOSHER DELIGHT MAGAZINE