One of the greatest texts in Torah is found in Leviticus, chapter 19, verse 18. It reads: “V’ahavta L’Reicha Kamocha – Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Rabbi Akiva expounds that of all the verses in Torah, this is the greatest of all. In essence, he is saying that the mitzvah to love your neighbor is the foundational teaching of Torah.
It’s not the Ten Commandments. It’s not the story of Creation. Loving your neighbor, according to Akiva, surpasses the significance of any other passage in Torah.
Why did Akiva single out this verse? What does it really mean to love your neighbor? Why is loving your neighbor linked to loving yourself?
These questions will help frame our discussion at our next Jewish Ethics class. We also will explore the nature of friendship and why a close friend may be even more important than a member of your family.
“Moral Duty Toward Friends and Neighbors” is the title of next Wednesday night’s session. We will meet on January 23 in the Social Hall at 7pm.