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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

What's Love Got To Do With It?


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From Rabbi David

Probably the most famous in the entire Torah is in this week's parsha, "Love your neighbor as yourself." In a beautiful commentary, HaKtav VeHaKabalah, from the 19th century, Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg, explains exactly what it means to love your neighbor:

  • That he love me truly without falsehood.

  • That he treat me with respect always, as the rabbis say: Honor of your friend should be like the reverence for your teacher.

  • That he ask my wellbeing always, because that's fitting for loving neighbors to be at peace and to ask of each other's wellbeing.

  • That he partake in my pain.

  • That he receive me with a smile when I come to his house.

  • That he judge me favorable.

  • That he voluntarily inconvenience himself for me.

  • That he loan me or gift me some money when I need it and that he not withhold from me any small request to borrow something.

  • That he not be arrogant towards me.

While we all know this teaching, I wonder sometimes if I am living up to it. Do I always treat others with full respect? Do I always judge others favorably? Am I always wearing a smile? Unfortunately - I know the answer is not always yes and that's why I love that this is a commandment. I cannot just say, "oh well - I'm not in the mood to be loving today." The Torah isn't interested in my mood - it is interested in my actions. And so when I am not "in the mood" to treat others with respect the Torah calls out to me to remind me that how I'm feeling shouldn't change the way I behave. I have a responsibility to love my neighbor regardless of my own emotions.

This is a difficult and powerful challenge the Torah puts upon us and one that would make our world a much more beautiful place.

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