KODESHIM (Holy Ones): Love Thy Neighbor as Yourself

Part Two of a three part series on “The Holiness Code” (Parsha Kodeshim). (Part One: Kodeshim – What Does Holiness Mean?)

Leviticus is called “the heart of the Torah” because of the number of commandments it contains. This Parsha (Torah Portion) alone contains 51 mitzvot (commandments or obligations), including the biggee to “Love your kinsman (fellow) as yourself: I am the LORD.” [Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18]. 

Rabbi Akiva said loving your kinsman is a fundamental principle of the Torah. 

Rabbi Hillel is famous for his take on loving your fellow:

What is hateful to you do not to another, that is the whole of the Torah, all the rest is commentary.

Yet within this very same Torah passage, we are told to “Reprove your kinsman, and incur no guilt (or sin) because of him.” [Vayikra/Leviticus 19:17] 

This Parsha (Torah Portion) tells us that love, self-love and rebuke are interconnected, obligating us to reprove a person for their wrong-doings, without carrying their sin and guilt.

We can see from this verse that boundaries, accountability, communication and *corrective experiences are pivotal aspects of the “Holiness Code.”

To clarify, there are strict parameters on the art of reproving in Jewish Law. It’s an egregious sin (equivalent to murder) to humiliate a person by reproving in front of others. Moreover, we must never reprove out of vengeance or spite.

Reproving is not taken lightly. It’s an earnest, conscientious and private dialogue intended to clear the air on wrong-doings that have inflicted harm or hurt. Repression is toxic, therefore Tochecha (rebuke) allows you to speak your Truth in the interests of emotional health.


1. Can love your fellow “as yourself,” if you don’t truly love yourself?

I believe we can love others and show love for others without necessarily loving ourselves. 

Sometimes we love ourselves without even realizing it, simply by engaging in activities that bring us solace, healing or joy.

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, describes Love as:

2. Does loving your fellow necessarily involve emotional love? 

I don’t think you have to love someone emotionally in order to SHOW love or behave Lovingly towards them. Caretaking is Love. Compassion is Love. Simply treating a person as valued, visible, heard and respected is Love.

3. In this Parsha we learn that love, self-love and rebuke dovetail, although rebuke is a strictly private interaction for the purpose of tikkun (repair). We’re also instructed not to take on another person’s sin or guilt. 

How do you feel about reproving or being reproved (as defined in Jewish Law)? Have you ever carried the burden of another person’s sin or guilt?

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear! 😉

©️ 2020 The Wild Pomegranate — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

*Thanks to Shaina for the term “corrective experiences.” It’s a great one to add to our repertoire.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Rosh Hashanah post. 🍎🍯

Torah — first Five Book of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

13 thoughts on “KODESHIM (Holy Ones): Love Thy Neighbor as Yourself

  1. This is a detailed account of what one has to do as a Jew in order to be decent. It also, takes about what one should not do, such as shame, or admonish another Jew publicly. I really like this d’rash because I do not ever want to be disrespected. I pull some one aside to talk to him in private in order not to embarrass him. This is a religious tenet found in the Shulcan Oruch because what good does religion do if your hurting someone in the name of Hashem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “1. Can love your fellow “as yourself,” if you don’t truly love yourself?”

    When I first read this question, I was worried that your response would be “No,” and I was very glad to see that I was wrong!

    “Sometimes we love ourselves without even realizing it, simply by engaging in activities that bring us solace, healing or joy.”

    I think this is very true – and part of what writing does for me, it seems.

    A beautiful post, as usual. Shanah Tovah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate//Abi

      I’m glad I pleasantly surprised you with my response, ben Alexander. 😊

      When I did this shiur in person, people started realizing and sharing all the ways they were practicing self-love, even when they didn’t feel it — like going on a nature hike, buying themselves a blueberry muffin from their favorite bakery, planting vegetables, writing, knitting, working out, artwork, music, spending time with pets or simply enjoying their favorite vanilla french press coffee.

      Thanks so much for being here and reflecting on the material! I really enjoyed and appreciated your reflections.

      שנה טובה ומתוקה 🍯🍎🖖🥳


  3. Oh, I love the thoughts in this post, thank you so much. I am frankly aghast and concerned deeply when I see how many people who would call themselves “religious” (perhaps especially in American Christianity but I don’t have a lot right now to compare it to) do not think they should be reproved. I am eternally (I hope) grateful for the times I have been reproved and corrected, made to understand I have been either wrong, mistaken, or have sinned and I don’t know how this could happen for a person if there are not people who “love” one enough to dialogue and point out errors in one’s ways. I think that we do not really love ourselves if we can never admit we are wrong and so how could we love others if we are not able to help them see they are wrong or headed in the wrong direction etc? How would we know what G-d is truly like if we never see Him as caring about our actions and ideas and trying to correct us when we do wrong? Also, I love seeing everything other than “active” love (not emotional noun love but a love for everyone even the enemy verb love) as the Rabbi says, the rest is all “commentary”. What a helpful metaphor for our worldview found in Torah. Thank you as always for both a brilliant and wise and caring post. May wholeness be yours today, Jane

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate//Abi

      I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful response and reflections on the post, Jane. Your full engagement with the learning material always makes my day!

      When I did these classes in person (pre-covid), we would have great discussions, based on everyone’s personal insights into the learning material. We all learned and gained so much from the individual insights brought to the table. I always posed questions at the end, as catalysts for discussion. I feel the vibrancy and shared wisdom of those discussions come back to life whenever you comment.

      I am filled with gratitude for every word that you wrote and all the wisdom you bring to the table. You rock! I love your thought processes and your questions! Rav Brachot (Abundant Blessings!), Abi ❤️


  4. Another interesting post, Abi. I think the manner in which we reprove another person is the key. Not to beat the person over the head with our reproof but to discuss in a kind and gentle questioning way. Not as a parent to a child but a loving friend. I believe we have to love ourselves before we can love others or we are just going through the motions and not truly committed. I have read a number of versions of Rabbi Himmel’s take on loving your fellow. The most famous being a take on the 10 commandments which is to love God and to love your neighbor. Trust your Rosh Hashanah was joyous, reflective, and communal and I wish you all the best in this holy time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate//Abi

      Many thanks and much appreciation for your feedback, reflections and New Year wishes, Len! 😊Community is still shut down due to covid — but we have Zoom rooms. Not the same, but it’s the new normal. I pray 2021/5781 will be a way better year for all of us! 🖖🌻

      Liked by 1 person

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