This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Kedoshim (5760)
For several years The Lubavitch Rebbe used to stand for hours every Sundayand 'hand out dollars'. Thousands of people would stand in two lines; onefor men and one for women, and for five or six hours the Rebbe would giveadvice, blessings and encouragement to each person along with at least onedollar (to encourage others to give charity).
Because the Rebbe was over ninety years old, had literally a 24-hour-a-day7-day-a-week work schedule and never had taken even one day off in his life(!), the Chassidim were naturally worried for his health and they requestedthat the Rebbe at least shorten the time that he gave out dollars so as notto tire himself out.
The Rebbe answered them, "When you count diamonds, you don't get tired".
This week's section contains fifty-two commandments;thirteen positive and thirty-eight negative.
Among them; not to steal, not to rob, not to curse anyone, not to misleadothers, not to hate, nor take revenge, not to slander, shame, or cause harmthrough speech (loshon hara).
Also, most of the 'outreach' mitzvot are found here; don't refrain fromsaving others, reproving sinners.
But in this section is found a very special commandment, in fact the 'mostimportant' of all the commandments:
'Love your neighbor as yourself'.
It is so important that two of the greatest scholars and holiest Jews thatever lived, Rabbi Akiva and Hillel said of it that , "This is the summation(klal godol) of the Torah"!(Hillel said it a bit differently as we will discuss, G-d willing.)
Let us try to understand what these men meant.
How is it that if a Jew loves his neighbor he will come to do the wholeTorah?
What has loving others got to do with, for instance, not cooking on Shabbat,eating only kosher food or not worshiping Idols?Why would someone put on Tefillin or learn Torah day and night just becausehe loves others?
In fact we see the exact opposite! The more that one wants to be acceptedby others, the less observant he usually is.The Shulchan Aruch even warns us not to be affected by what others think,even if they scoff at you, because it WEAKENS one's Torah observance!
Conversely, the more that one is involved in Torah the more faults he canfind in others and the less camaraderie there is! He can't eat, dress, actetc. like everyone else.
And, even more, we see that the myriads of commandments and ideas in theTorah create myriads of arguments, customs, and differences even between thereligious people themselves!
So how is "Loving your neighbor" a main principle of the Torah?
In a nutshell, the answer to all this is, that the whole Torah was givenonly to express the uniqueness and the true value of what a Jew is.
From the first word in the Torah "Beraishees" we can learn that the entireworld and everything in it, both spiritual and physical, was (and isconstantly being) made in the merit of the Torah and the Jewish people (seeRashi there).
But the last sentence of the Torah (see Rashi there) tells us even more;that Moshe broke the Tablets_ he smashed the Torah (!), in order to save theJews from the punishment of the unpardonable sin of the Golden Calf.
He did it, (and G-d praised him for it) because he realized that the Jews(even the sinners!) are higher than the Holy Torah itself!
Moshe realized that each Jew is an 'only son' of G-d, and has a ray of theessence of HaShem in him (something like a miniature Holy Temple), andtherefore has the potential to make peace, harmony, and blessing in theworld (like the Holy Temple).
Without the shining of this Jewish Soul, the world is without blessing, andmeaning.
This is the 'yourself' that Rabbi Akiva was talking about when he said 'Loveyour fellow as yourself'.
Namely, that when we try to find this holiness in ourselves we can then lookfor it in each and every Jew. Something like searching for a diamond in themud.
This is the meaning of what the Rebbe said earlier, "When you count diamondsyou don't get tired".
[Incidentally, this does not in any way imply that Jews should love onlyJews.
In fact exactly the opposite is true; the Jewish soul is from the essence ofthe CREATOR, and when it is revealed, it inspires more love toward ALL ofG-d's Creations especially other human beings (because all men are made inG-d's image).
It's just that love begins at home, so Jews must first learn to love Jews.]
The only way to bring this Jewish soul into action, however, is the Torah.The Torah, and the commandments therein, have the power to reveal andmanifest in the world this living holiness hidden in each and every Jew (seechapt. 32 in the Tanya)
Therefore the Torah is called 'power and peace', (T'hilim 29:11 see TalmudZ'vachim 116a) because it gives power to the Jewish souls to shine and bringpeace into the world.
Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.