Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Love Your Neighbor Like Yourself Part I

By Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen

“Do not take revenge, do not bear a grudge against a member of your people, love thy neighbor like yourself.1

“Love thy neighbor” - is there any commandment more well-known than this? Yet we must ask ourselves what this requires on an individual level? Understood literally this would imply that we must have the same emotional feelings of love to others that we naturally feel for ourselves. Yet is this really possible? We all feel a very strong love for ourselves and it is surely impossible to love other people to the same extent.

A more satisfactory explanation of this commandment is that it obligates us to strive to desire that our friend succeeds in life. This attitude is not based on emotions, rather it comes from an intellectual understanding that the success of another person should also be a source of joy to ourselves. In order to achieve this level we must work on removing feelings of jealousy towards others. Jealousy comes when a person feels threatened by his friends achievements, and feels inadequate as a result. But we need to recognize that each person has his own unique set of talents tailor-made for him to be able to fulfill his potential in life.

For example, the abilities required of a pitcher in baseball are very different from those needed to be a great batter. Would a pitcher be jealous of the batter’s ability to hit a ball very hard?! And likewise, would a batter feel lacking if he could not pitch a ball as accurately as the pitcher?! Of course not - they realize that they have a particular role in the team that requires certain talents but not others. So too, I have no reason to feel jealous of my friend’s abilities. Had I needed them I would have been blessed with them!

Once we can internalize this idea then it will become far easier to share in our friend’s joy and empathize with his pain. So, when a friend is seeking employment, the command of “love thy neighbor” tells us that we should strive to want him to succeed as much as we would want to succeed ourselves. And if he fails in a test then we should try to imagine how we would feel in the same situation and transfer that feeling to him. This is one of the key aspects of ‘love thy neighbor’ and if we can live by this then we can avoid unwarranted jealousy and feel far more content with our lot in life.

1 Vayikra, Parshas Kedoshim, 19:18.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Go the Distance!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Certain Things Noach Did Not Have To Worry About
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

The Best Policy
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

New Beginnings
Shlomo Katz - 5762

The Path to Serving God
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Of Showers, Towers, and False Powers
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

A Sobering Lesson
- 5768

In His Generation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

What a Deal!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

> Constant Taking is Self Destructing
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Making It Perfect
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

ArtScroll

Generation to Generation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

A Flood of Something...
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Procreation: Creating Worlds
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Lesson of the Ravens
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information