Questioning faith in the parsha
April 30, 2011/26 Nissan 5771
Modern Author: Bruce Jay Friedman The Neighbors
Leviticus 19: 1-18
KOSHI: What is the path to “kedoshim tih’yu?”….How must we walk it alongside our “neighbor?”
V.2 Speak to the entire congregation of B’nai Yisrael, saying to them: You shall be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
TORAT KOHANIM… “Holy shall you be.” For when you sanctify yourselves, it is as if you have sanctified Me.
SeFAS EMES… “Kedoshim Tih’yu” Why is this written in the plural? For only as we consider our connection to others do we have any hopes of attaining holiness.
VaYIKRA RABBAH…“Kedoshim Tih’yu” In the opinion of R’ Tanchum: ‘If a person can protest the wrongdoing of another and does not, or can support another and does not, such a person is not considered holy.
V.18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the members of your people—love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai
SIFRA… “You shall not take vengeance” What is the intent? One says to another: Lend me your sickle, and the other refuses. The next day, the latter asks, ‘Lend me your axe.’ But the former replies, ‘I shall not lend you just as you did not lend to me.’ Such behavior is condemned as vengeance. And “You shall not bear a grudge” What is the extent? One says to another: ‘Lend me your axe,’ and the other refuses. The next day the latter asks, ‘Lend me your sickle,’ and the former replies, ‘Here you are, for I am not like you who does not know how to lend.’ This is condemned as bearing a grudge.
RAMBAM…He who takes vengeance transgresses a negative commandment…and though he receives no lashes for it, it is an exceedingly vicious characteristic…On this account Torah condemns bearing a grudge, for so long as a person harbors the feelings in his heart and remembers, he is in danger of taking vengeance…But if people can remove evil from their hearts…life can bring peace.
YERUSHALMI…How can not taking vengeance and not bearing a grudge be achieved?…If a man was cutting his meat with a knife and it slipped, cutting his other hand, would the injured hand take up the knife and in turn cut off the hand which injured it?….Therefore, “love your neighbor as yourself.”[Nedarim 9:4]
V.18 …love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai
RAMBAN… “Kamocha—As yourself” This commandment is not meant literally, for it is unrealistic to love another to this degree. Likewise, saving one’s own life—the halacha would teach—must take precedence over saving another. So is it written not “Love your neighbor—Reyacha” but “L’Reyacha—Love towards your neighbor” Sometimes a person will be interested in his neighbor’s wealth, but not his attaining wisdom…His love for neighbor will be qualified, not fully towards him…He will want to be superior to his neighbor in certain respects, to be above, not on par. This, Torah condemns….Rather, a person should see himself as reaching towards…never begrudging any other the maximum good he hopes for himself.
HaKTAV V’HaKABBALAH…The word Kamocha is the operative one in this commandment.
Actually, no two people can fulfill this central principle in just the same way…An iconoclast who expects little in the way of friendship from others has, then, fulfilled this primary law as soon as he relates to his fellow with the same degree of minimal devotion that he himself expects fromothers… What Torah, rather, expects you to become is yourself, not more, a totally self-effacing human being, but yourself—certainly not less. The meaning of Kamocha is “K’mo Atah—like you—yourself”…Appreciate others as you should your-self.
SEFAS EMES… “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart—reprove, yes reprove your fellow…Love your neighbor as yourself.” The commentators have written that “reprove” is doubled to indicate that one who reproves is included in the rebuke he offers. He should know that, he, too, has a part in the sin he sees in someone else. That is the intent of “do not bear sin on his account”—do not cast the entire burden of wrong onto the transgressor. See yourself in his sin, be awakened to his feelings with a caring heart, and turn with him in repentance. Then surely will he be “kamocha—like you” …And you will love him—as yourself.
R’S.R. HIRSCH… The text does not say “Rey-acha” but “L’rey-acha.” It is not our neighbor but that which pertains to our neighbor which we must love. We are not obliged to love his personality, but to love his welfare as if it were our own….to keep him from pain, as though we were threatened. Even if he is unlikable, we must still show love for his well-being.
The KOTZKER REBBE… “Love your neighbor—as yourself?” Is falling in love with yourself such a commendable thing? Rather, to prevent the idolatrous love of self, you must extend love, in kind, to your neighbor, lest you lose the Image [of God.]
B’SHEM GADOL ECHAD…To the extent that a Jew is lacking in observing “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” so is he deficient in fulfilling “You shall love the Lord your God.”…For Ani Adonai….