Project Genesis




Understanding “Love Your Neighbor”

Question: I have to write an essay on a few of the famous quotes in Leviticus. I am having a particularly troubling time on chapter 19, verse 18 and understanding the meaning of the different commentaries by Rashi and Rambam and one other of my choice of any prominent rabbi. If you could please help me understand the meanings of the commentary by those rabbi’s on the verse “Love your neighbour like you love yourself” that would be great!

Question: “Don’t take revenge or bear a grudge against your fellow Jew, and love your fellow as yourself, I am Hashem.” Rashi explains revenge: I asked you to borrow an ax, and you said no. When you ask me later to borrow something, I say no back. A grudge: When you ask me later, I say yes, but I add, “Not like you did!” Neither of these is an act of love, of bringing closeness between our people. If you love someone, especially if it’s “like yourself”, you can act lovingly toward the other even if he doesn’t always reciprocate. Loving like yourself doesn’t mean, as much as you love yourself – that doesn’t make any sense (Ramban). It means, as a part of yourself. Love is a recognition that I am connected to the other, and that what happens to him matters to me. (There’s an old saying: A mother is only as happy as the most unhappy of her children.) This is what Rabbi Akiva adds is a fundamental principle of the Torah; Jews are all connected.

The Ramban adds that included in this is a lack of jealousy. I want all the best for him, not: But of course, as long as I have a little bit more. Parents aren’t jealous of their children’s accomplishments. Their children are part of them, their successes are the parents’ successes too. We have to feel that way about our fellow Jew, because he’s part of us.Best wishes,

Michoel Reach

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