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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2005 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Person to Person, Part I

By Rabbi Mordechai Becher


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A person who is devout and sensitive in matters relating to the Divine, but is remiss in his treatment of other people, is neglecting half of the human purpose in the world


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets. (1) On the first tablet were five statements about the relationship between a person and his or her Creator (G-d and parents). The second five focus on the relationship between a person and his or her peers. (2) The design of the tablets teaches us that in order to be complete, people must cultivate proper relationships with their peers just as much as they form a connection with G-d. (3) A person who is devout and sensitive in matters relating to G-d, but is remiss in his treatment of other people, is neglecting half of the human purpose in the world. A famous story in the Talmud illustrates this idea:


A Gentile came to Hillel(4) and said, "Convert me, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while standing on one foot." Hillel said, "That which is hateful unto you, do not do unto your friend — that is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary, go and learn." (5)


Rashi(6) explains that Hillel is referring to two "friends": The Creator, Who is called "your Friend and the Friend of your father," (7) and is referred to in our liturgy as "Beloved of the soul"; (8) and to our literal "friends," our fellow human beings. (9) Acting with an awareness of and sensitivity toward the desires of both of these "friends" is the essence of Judaism. All of the laws and commandments are "commentaries" on exactly how to avoid doing that which "is hateful unto" your friend.

We will, in the course of the next few installments, summarize some of the primary obligations of the Torah that govern our relationships with people. The basis for most of these obligations can be found in the following verses in Leviticus: (10)


You shall not steal, you shall not deny falsely, and you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear falsely by My Name, thereby desecrating the Name of your G-d — I am G-d. You shall not cheat your fellow and you shall not rob; you shall not withhold a worker's wage with you until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your G-d — I am G-d. You shall not commit a perversion of justice; you shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great; with righteousness shall you judge your fellow. You shall not be a gossipmonger among your people, you shall not stand aside while your fellow's blood is shed — I am G-d. You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself — I am G-d.

MORE THAN POLITICAL SCIENCE
In the ancient world, many codes of law preceded or existed concurrently with the Torah's code. (11) These systems provided societies with the legal framework necessary to prevent anarchy and to ensure that the life of man not be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." (12) In contrast to the Torah, however, none speak in terms of love for others, absolute morality or moral demands emanating from G-d. They specify the consequences of certain actions, describe payments and judgments, but never enter the sphere of morality. Their main concern is pragmatism and economic security, while the Torah's primary concern is goodness, righteousness and the service of G-d. (13) Other codes deal only with legal matters; the Torah combines "legal, moral, and religious prescriptions" into a single entity. (14) In other codes, those given the most protection under the law are the nobility, the landowners and the priests; in the Torah, most protection is provided for the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the poor. (15)

These laws of the Torah are, therefore, not merely a social contract or bill of rights; they are Divine commandments designed to elevate the individual and society, and inculcate us with the qualities of G-d's justice and compassion. It is not only enlightened self-interest that should motivate us in our dealing with other people, but also a recognition that G-d, the Creator, demands that we treat His children with justice, compassion and love. The Torah is teaching us that these commandments come with the authority of G-d behind them. They were not formulated merely by human choice or communal will; that is why so many of these laws end with the phrase "I am G-d."

LOVE, DON'T HATE
The commandment to love others means that we should really want all the happiness, success, health and honor that we enjoy to be enjoyed by everyone else as well. (16) This obligation is the inverse of the prohibition, "Do not covet." (17) A jealous person's primary concern is that another person not have more than or even as much as he has. (18) To love means to be concerned with another human being's physical and spiritual well-being; to feel his pain and rejoice in his happiness. It means not looking at others as competitors for resources, affection and honor, but as essential partners in life. (19) The verse, "Love your neighbor," (20) ends with the words, "I am G-d," to explain why we should strive to achieve such love. We are all indeed children of G-d, and He loves all of us. If we love G-d, we express that connection by loving His children. If our love of G-d is sincere, we want to imitate Him, which we can best do by loving and giving. (21)

This mitzvah (religious duty), beautiful as it is, poses a difficulty. How can the Torah command us to have a specific emotion? Either one feels love toward another person, or one does not. It does not seem realistic to expect a person to feel love on demand.

One way of understanding this dilemma is that the mitzvah of loving one's friend is multilayered. Ideally, we should feel love towards all of humanity. The Torah does not, however, expect this ideal, nor is it attainable for most people. We are, of course, prohibited to steal from, (22) murder, (23) or cheat(24) any human being. We are also commanded not to hate anyone, even one's enemy, as the Torah teaches us, "At the fall of your enemy, do not rejoice." (25) The exception is an evil person whom we are obligated to hate. (26) Even in that case, however, we should hate the evil that he does, but still retain a love for the essence of G-dliness within him, his soul. (27)

When it comes to the positive commandment to love, however, the minimal requirement is more limited. According to Nachmanides, we are obligated to act with love toward one another, even when the corresponding emotion is absent. (28) We must not do anything to another person we would not like to be done to us. (29) How can we be asked to do this? Because a person's inner being is affected by his external reality. (30)

To the extent that we consistently behave with sensitivity and perform acts of kindness toward others, a feeling of love will inevitably begin to grow.

Although there is a divergence of opinions regarding the legal implications of the mitzvah, the practical directive is the same: Act kindly and with respect toward others at all times. The Sages reinforced this idea over and over again in the Mishnah and Talmud:


Receive every person with a cheerful face. (31)
Who is honored? He who honors others. (32)
One's dealings with people should always be in a pleasant manner. (33)
Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to the Torah. (34)


We must try to get closer and closer to the state where we wish for the same level of happiness and satisfaction that we wish for ourselves; where we love each one for who they are and realize that we are all part of a greater whole. (35) Ideally, we would wish to achieve this degree of love for every human being. The Torah is aware, however, that this is beyond the capacity of most people. (36) Even this is a goal that most of us work all our lives to achieve.

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As a senior lecturer and outreach expert with Gateways Seminars, Rabbi Mordechai Becher has helped thousands of people reconnect with the beauty, wisdom, and relevance of their Jewish heritage. Often asked to recommend "just one book" that would explain the essentials of Jewish life and thought, he decided to write it himself, Gateway to Judaism: The What, How, and Why of Jewish Life, from which this column was excerpted. (Sales of this book help fund JWR).

Comment by clicking here.



NOTES

References to books of the Talmud refer to the Babylonian Talmud unless otherwise noted.

(1) Exodus 20:2-24, Deuteronomy 5:6-18; Maharal, Tiferet Yisrael Chap. 35.

(2) Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 6:1.

(3) Maharal, Drush Al HaTorah, p. 14b.

(4) Mishnaic Sage, Israel, circa. 40 B.C.E.

(5) Shabbas 31a.

(6) France, 1040-1105 C.E.

(7) Proverbs 27:10.

(8) "Yedid Nefesh" --- The Complete ArtScroll Siddur (Ashkenaz), pp. 590- 591.

(9) Rashi, Shabbas 31a, ad loc.

(10) Leviticus 19:11-18.

(11) Laws of Eshnunna, circa 1800 B.C.E.; Code of Hammurabi, 1750 B.C.E; Laws of Nuzi, 1500 B.C.E. --- James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1958, pp. 133-172.

(12) Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Collier Macmillan Publishers, London, 1962. Chap. 13, p. 100.

(13) Barry L. Eichler, Study of Bible in Light of Our Knowledge of the Ancient Near East, in Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah, Edited by Shalom Carmy, Jason Aronson, NJ, 1996, pp. 91- 93.

(14)Leah Bronner, Biblical Personalities and Archaeology, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1974, p. 67.

(15) Ibid. pp. 67-68.

(16) Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Leviticus 19:18; Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno, Commentary on the Torah, Leviticus ibid.

(17) Exodus 20:14.

(18) Nachmanides, ibid.; Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, I Toroth, Chap. 15, para. 120.

(19) Ibid.

(20) Leviticus 19:18.

(21) Horeb, ibid.

(22) Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Theft 1:1.

(23) Ibid. Laws of Homicide 1:1.

(24) Chullin 94a.

(25) Proverbs 24:17.

(26) Pesachim 113b.

(27) Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya, 1:32.

(28) Pesachim 75a; Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Leviticus, 19:18; Sefer Hachinuch, Mitzvah 243.

(29) Shabba s 31a.

(30) Rabbi Aharon of Barcelona, Sefer Hachinuch, Parshat Bo, Mitzvah 20, Mossad Harav Kook, Jerusalem, 1984.

(31) Mishnah, Ethics of the Fathers 1:16.

(32) Ibid. 4:1.

(33) Yoma 86a.

(34) Mishnah, Ethics of the Fathers 1:12.

(35) Rabbi Shimon Shkop, Shaarei Yosher, Introduction.

(36) Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Intellect 6:3.


© 2005, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.