|The Torah Connection-Kedoshim-Love Your Neighbor|
|Written by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg|
“You shall love your fellow as yourself – Ani (I am) Hashem.” There are a number of mitzvos (commandments) which are followed by Ani Hashem such as, “You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed – I am Hashem.” Rashi there explains “Ani Hashem” “I am faithful to pay rewards (for compliance) and faithful to exact punishment (for non-compliance). However, what is the meaning of “Ani Hashem” regarding loving your fellow?
The Modern Paradox
Perhaps never before in history has there been such a tremendous edifice of human and other rights.
Everyone and everything has “rights” including animals which to some are on a par with human rights.
The problem, however, and why this immense edifice must, indeed, someday topple, is that it has no foundation by which it is supported. It is intrinsically contradictory. For if there is no belief in G-d, and evolution is the foundation of mankind, then indeed life is but an accident and, therefore can have no meaning and when it’s over it’s over. If nothing basically has meaning, then why does it have rights? What gives it importance? Why shouldn’t I try and take advantage? Why should one be “politically correct”?
It might be argued that without rules, mores or “political correctness,” society could not exist and pandemonium and anarchy would rule the day. But that is a pragmatic concern, not one of moral or political “correctness.” There is nothing “correct” about stopping when the light is red or going when it is green. It is just that without these rules we would be swamped with gridlock. In the same way the pragmatism of making society work is not “correct” but one of avoiding political mayhem.
Therefore the pasuk (verse) states, “Love your fellow as yourself – I am Hashem.” It is only because “I am Hashem” that, therefore, these are absolute values and you have absolute and intrinsic value and your fellow has absolute and intrinsic value. Thus, there is meaning to the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself. There is Gd Who created you both. There are absolute truths. There are absolute values. You and your fellow now have absolute, everlasting worth – moral and absolute worth. Therefore, love him as yourself – “I am Hashem.”
1 Leviticus 19:18
2 Ibid 17
3 There is no need to repeat the above warning.
4 Except fetuses and those lacking “quality of life.”
5 I once heard from my teacher and Rebbe, Horav Dovid Kronglas, the Mashgiach zt”l that the reason that Kayin (Cain) did not bring an animal korban (sacrifice) as Hevel (Abel) did was because he held that man has no right to take the life of an animal. The end was that he took the life of a man.
6 It is said that in Nazi Germany when Jews were taken from their homes to the camps, the Humane Society (or the German equivalent thereof) made sure that the Jewish pets left behind were well taken care of.
7 Already in the 1920’s, after Horav Meir Shaprio (of Daf Yomi fame) returned from a trip to America, he was asked for a reading of what America was all about. He answered, “They know well how to make Kiddush but they don’t know how to make Havdalah.”
8 Not “morally correct” because morality connotes something absolute which is anathema to modern man. But then it must be granted that “political” is not an absolute and opens itself up to potential wishy-washiness.
9 Why is it then than mankind has a moral, albeit often perverted, sense of morality? Because Hashem gave man a sense of morality to guide him in his life. However, when one’s moral compass becomes distorted his sense of morality becomes distorted also.
10 There is a Jewish expression, “The kind person is promiscuous and the religious person is a murderer.” (There is a basis for both these statements). What should a Jew be – kind and religious. (The two together will keep him from both problems.)