Hello there! I hope you had a terrific Pesach holiday!
This week’s parasha speaks about lots of commandments. The very first is the commandment to the Jewish people to “be holy!” followed by that of fearing your parents, guarding the Shabbos, and not serving other gods. We learn about bringing favorable offerings, gifts to the poor, and how to deal honestly with your fellow man.
We actually learn one of the most famous commandments in the Torah from this week’s parashah: V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha! Love your fellow Jew as yourself! This is surrounded by other related commandments like not hating your fellow Jew and not speaking badly of others.
The Torah continues to talk about forbidden mixtures of planting and animals, the laws of fruit trees (did you know even fruit trees have laws?), the laws of men cutting their hair, and our beloved mitzvah (commandment) of Shabbos! We are told to treat converts as ourselves, and to be careful in weights and measures so that we are honest.
Next the parasha talks about some punishments for things that people do wrong and the commandment once again not to serve foreign gods, and to be holy, ending with the promise of inheriting our Land from Hashem.
There’s a common question asked whenever the Torah commands us to feel a certain way. How can Hashem command us how to feel? If I don’t like somebody, how can you tell me to love them? If I’m not happy with someone today, how can you tell me to be excited to see them just ’cause it’s a mitzvah?
This is a unique special quality of the Jewish people. Hashem can command us to love our fellow Jew because as members of the Jewish people, we are all members of the same family. We’re part of one whole. If one Jew is suffering one one side of the world, Jews on the other end of the world will daven and do mitzvos in their merit.
Why is this?
We’re all part of the same unit. I can’t go on in regular everyday living if I know that there is another Jew in pain. (Halevai, I wish I could reach this level!!) Hashem can command us to love each other because we ARE each other. We can’t go on without each other.
So the next time you (G-d forbid) can’t think of a single merit to a fellow Jew, stop and remember this line that the sages Hillel and Rabbi Akiva ranked at the top of the Mitzvos: V’ahavta L’rei’acha Kamocha.
If I can’t love my own self, who is there left to love?!
I’m listening to my friend’s two-year-old daughter Deena sing Uncle Moishy’s “Shabbos is coming, we’re so happy” on the telephone from Israel! She is the cutest little girl ever!
Wishing you a fantastic Shabbos!