“Veahavta Lerayacha Kamocha, Ani Hashem,” “You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:18).
It seems strange that at the end of the verse Hashem states, “I am Hashem.” What is the reason for it? Rebbe Mendel of Kosov, in his Sefer Ahavat Shalom, explains that it can be understood as follows. A person is supposed to love his fellow friend exactly as he likes himself, and the same goes with the other person as well. The word “Ahava,” “love” demonstrates this as the Gematria of “Ahava” (13) is the same Gematria of “Echad,” “one” meaning one. This is a Remez (hint) to the fact that each person should treat their fellow as if they are really one person. If they do this then they have made the complete name of Hashem because two times “Ahava” (13) is 26, the same value of Hashem’s name.
“Kedoshim Tihiyu ki Kadosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem,” “You shall be holy because I, Hashem your God, am holy” (Vayikra 19:2). What does the word Kedusha actually mean? It is a word that implies a need for preparation, as Tosafot explains about the Mekadeshot, that Mekadeshot means to prepare. Rebbe Avraham Yaakov of Sadagra, in his Sefer Ner Yisrael, explains that this means that a person always needs to be prepared to be a vessel to receive holiness from Hashem. This is the meaning of the conclusion of the Pasuk “Because I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.” Hashem is constantly prepared and waiting to bestow his holiness and goodness to others. The only thing that prevents this bestowal is our being unprepared to receive all that Hashem has to offer.
How can one be considered a prepared Kli, vessel, for Hashem? I believe that the answer is implied later in the verse, which states, “you shall love your fellow as yourself.” This Mitzva, as Rav Akiva tells us, is an essential Mitzva in the Torah. We are currently mourning for Rebbe Akiva’s 12,000 pair of students who died because they did not respect each other. What was so incredibly horrible about what they did? By not fulfilling the Mitzva of loving “your fellow as yourself,” they were essentially leaving out the name of Hashem that is formed by their joint love for each other. They should have been 12,000 prepared Keilim (vessels), receiving Hashem’s incredible holiness and his Torah, but instead they left out the proper love for the Torah and thus were really leaving out Hashem from their learning. I believe this is stressed by the fact that only the condition in which we were able to receive the Torah was when we were “K’Ish Echad Blev Echad,” “Like one man with one heart.” We should be extra careful to learn from this message of the importance to love all of Bnai Yisrael, to realize that we are all like one person with one heart, and to become Keilim (vessels) for the Kedusha (holiness) and goodness that Hashem is waiting to bestow upon us.