Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Love your Fellow as (You Love) Yourself - Video Clip Included!

Parshat Kedoshim - a Parsha dealing with what it really means to be holy - what it really takes to be holy, includes within it one of the core principles of Judaism. After teaching, "Do not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour and do not bear a sin on account of him," Leviticus 19:18 teaches, "You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people - and you shall love your fellow as yourself - I am G-d." 

The range of Mussar (/mystical) books available today is overwhelming - from the well known works such as Mesillat Yesharim (Path of the Just by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato,) to Shaarei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness by Rabbi Chaim Vital Chapters 1-2. Chapters 3 and 4 dealing with Divine Inspiration) to Reishit Chochma (The Beginning of Wisdom by Rabbi Eliyahu De Vidas,) there exist every angle of what needs to be done to improve oneself - to become truly holy. Yet Parshat Kedoshim includes it all! 

Rabbi Akiva said that loving another as oneself is a great rule in the Torah. Hillel taught the entire Torah to a convert as he stood on one foot, "What is hateful to yourself, do not do to another," he said. Rules for greatness. Rules for life. How does one do it? Is there a practical example we can learn from?! The Tanya - the Chassidic work discussing the core teachings of Chabad Chassidut, written by Rabbi Schenur Zalman of Liady, teaches in Chapter 32 (Lev - Heart) that one of the most important things is to see the other as a soul. The important thing is not to focus on the other as a body. This is distracting as it causes one to fall for the illusion of the externalities of everything - a veneer that usually masks the true beauty hidden underneath.

When it comes to real love for another, you'll know you have it, when everything of the other is as important to you as your own "everything" is important to you - whether it's money, happiness - or even the other's very own life. That's what real love is. This most beautiful story - told over by the late Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Noach Weinberg - is a winner all around. Keep it nearby whenever you feel you need a refresher on what this beautiful Mitzvah of loving another is really all about.

Courtesy of Aish.com

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