Love Your Neighbor- To What Extent?

14 05 2012
Based on a series by Rabbi Hanoch Teller: Honorable Mentchen II

Chesed is normally translated as loving kindness, but it’s more. A secular government can legislate laws such as not speeding or not killing. It cannot, however, expect people to act in a conjointly sense of ‘we’ on behalf of the community.

The Rambam teaches that “V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha” (Loving ones fellow Jew) means caring about someone’s monetary possessions. The mitzvah also includes praising others. However, the Chafetz Chaim cautions us to be careful as excessive praise is likely to generate negative comments.

It can be hard to feel happy for someone when their fortune soars and to feel sad when their situation plummets. To fulfill the mitzvah of V’ahavta l’reicha one must work on obliterating his feelings of jealousy.

The Baal Shem Tov explained this mitzvah to mean that your behavior towards someone else should be based on the other person’s likes and dislikes, not your own.

The Gemara explains a pasuk in Chabakuk, “V’hatznea lechet im Elokecha.” You shall walk modestly with Hashem. This refers to burying the dead and helping a bride get married. At some weddings the focus is not on the other person but on yourself. What do they think about me? How do I look? V’haznea lechet teaches us that we are there for the other person.

Loving ones fellow Jew includes being hospitable to guests. We should do more than just providing a meal. We should look out for their needs, correct someone for doing something people would consider odd, chastise someone for sinning, lend money or other articles, pray for those in need, save someone from injury, greet people with a happy countenance, teach Torah, and share good news. A craftsman fulfills this mitzvah when he has in mind to do his best work for the benefit of his customer. A doctor fulfills this commandment when he heals someone.

On one of his travels Rav Moshe Leib Sassover entered a tavern. He heard a Russian horse trader say to his companion, “Igor I love you.” Igor tearfully replied, “No you don’t. If you really loved me you’d know what I am lacking.” Rav Moshe Leib learned a great lesson. True ahavat yisrael means being concerned about what the other person is missing and truly caring about them.




One response

11 06 2012
David Gower

I have enjoyed your site for maany years; yisha koach.
Right now, I can’t log on.
My e-mail is

PLEASE help!!!

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