Friday, May 05, 2006
Ahavas Yisrael = Ahavas Hashem
One of the most famous teachings of Judaism is Hillel’s dictum “Do not unto others as you would not want done unto you”. However, misunderstood is who the “others” refer to. Rashi (Shabbos 31a, in his first pshat) writes that “re’acha” actually refers to Hashem. Hillel’s summary of the entire Torah is, “Do not disregard the words of Hashem just as you would not like your words disregarded” – quite different than the usual spin! The meforshim (see Pri Tzadik) point out that Rashi’s reading in still consistent with the simple interpretation of the pasuk as a command to love one’s fellow Jew. Ahavas yisrael is based on more than a social contract, but is an extension of ahavas Hashem (see Tanya ch 32). If one truly loves G-d, one will love each Jew, because by definition each Jew has within them a connection to Hashem. The further a Jew is from G-d, the more it behooves us to remind him/her through our love they they still have that unseverable connection to Hashem (Rav Kook). Through ahavas Hashem one comes to ahavas Yisrael, which leads in turn to tshuvah m'ahavah.