Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself by Avraham Gellman


In Parashat Kedoshim, we see the famous phrase, “VeAhavta LeRei’acha Kamocha,” “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (VaYikra 19:18). It is a very strong and important phrase, one that has enormous relevance to society nowadays. But before this Mitzvah, we are taught many other important Mitzvot.

We are taught about ethical ways for performing agriculture. When harvesting, we should not harvest all the way to the edges, thereby leaving some crops for the poor to eat (19:9). We are taught to refrain from picking up harvested food that falls to the ground, leaving it for the poor and strangers instead (19:10). We are taught “Lo Tignovu,” “do not steal” (19:11). Do not swear falsely (19:12).

The Torah continues: give people their wages immediately and do not hold them overnight (19:13). Do not insult the deaf (19:14), be sensitive toward people with disabilities, and act as if someone is listening at all times. “Lifnei Iveir Lo Titein Michshol,” “In front of a blind person, do not place a stumbling block” (19:14). This can be interpreted in a literal sense or a figurative sense; do not trick people by putting an unknown obstacle in front of them. 

The Torah continues to give us important ideals about life, to treat both poor and rich people fairly and not to let any admiration or contempt cloud judgment (19:15). Do not hate your brothers and sisters (19:17) or hold grudges (19:18).

After all these commandments, we reach VeAhavta LeRei’acha Kamocha. An interesting Chasidic teaching relates that Hashem created people because he needed a neighbor, a people with whom to share a special relationship. The only reason we exist is that Hashem wanted to extend His love to others.

If so, we must do the same. We must extend our love to others, loving them as we love ourselves. The way we do this is by feeding the hungry, acting with justice and fairness, and treating those who are blind and deaf with respect and admiration. We must let go of our anger, grudges, and hatred toward others.

By doing these things, we emulate Hashem, conducting ourselves the way Hashem conducts Himself and wants us to conduct ourselves. Our test in life is to love our neighbors, no matter the difficulty of  the circumstances.[1] Good Shabbos.

[1] This article was inspired by an article on the website

United States Supreme Court Amicus Curiae Brief on the Importance of Beit Din by Chaim Kagedan

The Expansive Nature of “VeAhavta LeRei’acha Kamocha” by Hillel Koslowe