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"Love your fellow like yourself." Right. Like that's really possible...?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Jewish Identity » Love thy Neighbor | Subscribe | What is RSS?


You are 100% right. This Mitzvah certainly needs explaining:

Firstly, is love a measurable commodity? Is it really possible to regulate exactly how much one is supposed to love another? Secondly, is it reasonable to expect of someone to love even one person as much as him/herself? And here the Torah is demanding this level of affection for every Jew!

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” seems to be a nice cliché. It’s a nice proverb you’d expect to stumble upon in a touchy-feely how-to-improve-your-character book. But this is the Torah we’re talking about over here; Torat Emet, the Torah of Truth, the wisdom of the True G-d, whose every word is true and exact.

we are being instructed on the kind of love which is demanded of us
In a brilliant Chassidic discourse, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the third Rebbe of Lubavitch (1789-1866), explains that the Torah is not delineating the amount of love one must have for every Jew; instead, we are being instructed on the kind of love which is demanded of us.

A person’s love and care for his/her own self is unconditional. This love doesn’t waver even when annoyed or upset about having done something foolish or thoughtless. In fact, this person’s self-love is precisely the reason why he/she is so irked. Dwelling on our own deficiencies doesn’t cause us to lose our self-love; it only causes us to search for ways to improve.

The Torah expects us to view another’s faults in the same light. Your fellow Jew’s faults aren’t reason to distance yourself from him/her, rather they should generate a feeling of empathy and a determination to do whatever it takes to help this person be the person that he/she can and wants to be.


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Mitzvot » Love thy Neighbor

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Also known as “Chabad,” Lubavitch is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. “Lubavitch” is the name of the Belarusian city where four of the Chabad Rebbes (leaders) were based. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York, with branches worldwide. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.