Life-Changing Idea

You never know when you will encounter an idea that will change your life. This module presents one idea that can be found in the parsha that has that power.

 

Arguably the most famous verse in the Torah is the commandment that appears in Chapter 19 verse 18. Often quoted as “love thy neighbor”, the actual verse reads as follows

 וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ

Love your fellow as yourself

 

The fact that the Torah demands that we love one another as much as we love ourselves is surprising. As many commentators point out, this is an extremely demanding standard. Is it even possible to love God as much as we love ourselves?

 

Rav Shenur Zalman of Liyadi, otherwise known as the Alter Rebbe, offered the following answer. The Alter Rebbe asked: Why should we love ourselves? What grants us value as human beings? The Alter Rebbe explained that every person was created in the divine image of God and is imbued with a holy soul from heaven. Recognizing the godliness in ourselves as the source of our self-worth enables us to see the godliness in others and value them just as much.

 

Thus, explains the Alter Rebbe, is the message the Torah teaches us. “Love your fellow as yourself”means love your fellow for the same reason you love yourself. Namely, that both of you were created by God and are infinitely valuable as a result.