In EmunahSpeak: In The Crosshairs we ran a little overtime so we’ll do a one eighty here and make it short and hopefully sweet with a lick and a shmeck on a topic that will IY”H be revisited.
So what does love your fellow as yourself mean anyway?
Interpretations abound, and all too many of us settle for a chesed oriented definition as opposed to a literal one in which our fellow’s needs dictate our love for him. According to this view, the more he needs the more we love him. A very high madreiga of chesed to be sure, but it has nothing to do with the mitzvah of love you fellow as yourself.
When we quoted The Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l, in EmunahSpeak: Perhaps They’re Better Than You, we borrowed only what was needed for the topic at hand. Now that we have flipped that page for a new one, we’ll borrow some more a little further along in the Rebbe’s talk.
The Rebbe z”l, said “that the mitzvah of love your fellow Jew applies (even) to a Jew across the world whom you have never seen.” And he didn’t mean that we should feel obligated to send him a check if we should find out that he needed help because the Rebbe’s understanding of love your fellow as yourself wasn’t mortgaged to the touchy feely chesed interpretation that we spoke about above.
However much the Rebbe z”l, was wont to darshen in many other areas of Torah, vis á vis the mitzvah of love your fellow as yourself his approach was literally straight down Main Street.
“What kind of love,” He asked? “Torah contains no idle words. When it says ‘love your fellow as yourself,’ love means love. Your fellow means not you, but him. As yourself? Just as much as you love yourself.”
We need neither the views of Rashi nor the rest of the meforshim to perform this mitzvah the way the Rebbe z”l, understood it. Nor do we need the biggest head in the world.
We need the biggest heart.