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Thursday, Iyar 10, 5781 (25th day of the Omer)/ April 22, 2021


This Shabbat we read two Torah portions from Leviticus, Acharei Mot & Kedoshim.


Of the many mitzvot (commandments) in Parshat Kedoshim we read the following, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.  You shall rebuke your fellow [when they do something wrong], but you shall not bear a sin [by embarrassing them in public].  You shall not take revenge, nor bear a grudge against the members of your people.  You shall love your fellow as yourself. I am G-d.”


Q. “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” How can someone truly love another person like themselves?


A.  Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchev explains it so beautifully; “No person is perfect.  Every person knows their own faults and sometimes it may be many faults.  Yet, with all the faults that one has, they still love themselves and want the best for themselves. Says the Torah, ‘Love your fellow like yourself,’ just as you don’t let your own faults stop you from loving yourself, so too, don’t let the other person’s faults get in the way of loving them too!”


Another explanation: If a person hurts themselves by accident, they wouldn’t think of hating and punishing their own hand which caused them the pain.  It would only be adding more pain! So too, says the Torah, “You shall not take revenge, nor bear a grudge against the members of your people.  You shall love your fellow as yourself. I am G-d.”  One should view their fellow as themselves.


Q.  Why, after, “You shall love your fellow as yourself,”does the Torah add, “I am G-d.”


A. Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzin explains it with the following episode: A man was once sentenced to be put to death. As they were leading him to the gallows his friend came running, screaming on top of his lungs, “Don’t hang him. He is not guilty!  I am the guilty one!”  At the same time the one being led to the gallows said, “Don’t believe him. He is lying, I am guilty!”  


The case was brought back to the king who told the judges to re-examine the case. The case was re-opened and in the end both were found not guilty. The king then asked them, “Both of you knew that you were innocent, why did each of you claim that you committed the crime?” 


Each one replied, “I love my friend with all my heart and I knew that he was innocent. I was ready to do anything, even give my life, so that he would live!”  The king then exclaimed, “With such two great friends, please accept me as a friend too!”


G-d says, “Love your fellow as yourself, I am G-d.” Between friends who love each other as themselves, I too want to be there (“I am G-d), as your friend too!