Ahavat Yisroel-The Basis of the Torah

6 years ago csegal 0

I hereby accept upon myself the positive commandment of ‘Love your fellow as yourself.’”

We say this everyday before we pray, but do we really understand its meaning? The story goes like this: when asked to recite the entire Torah standing on one foot, Rabbi Hillel, one of the greatest Torah scholars, famously said that “Loving your fellow Jew as you love yourself is the essence of the entire Torah; the rest is simply commentary.” What did he say?! The whole Torah is commentary on this one mitzvah? Ahavat Yisroel must be pretty powerful if that is the essence of the entire Torah.
During the early to mid-twentieth century, Ahavat Yisroel (loving your fellow as yourself) was seen clearly, especially during the Holocaust. Many Jews gave up their food, water, shelter, safety, and most importantly, lives for others. In the concentration camps, mothers gave their daughters their last bits of food, fathers took beatings for their sons’, friends protected their friends, and strangers died for each other. It was a time of struggles and difficulty, but yet our nation put their fellows before them.

How much more so should we look up to these incredibly selfless people and tell their stories of death and survival to our children.

In today’s day and age, Ahavat Yisroel is more hidden and confined; it is not a fad or popular idea, so therefore sometimes it gets forgotten about. However, many people do Ahavat Yisroel without even realizing it. Most people will sacrifice bits and pieces of themselves or things that are important to them for the sake of others. They may share a meal with a hungry sibling, give someone a ride to the mall, or even offer to buy one something simply because they are their friend. This is all considered to be Ahavat Yisroel, whether intentional or not, whether something big or small, and whether it seems important or not. It is the thought that counts, not the specific action.
Ahavat Yisroel in this day and age can be expressed in a variety of ways; one just has to look for ways to start. It does not have to be a huge life changing thing. We are all capable of feeling another human’s pain. We are all capable of helping out a fellow, no matter in what way we do it. We are capable of changing this world for the better, step by step. Through every action that we do and every word that we say, we are influencing those around us and helping to shape the world. How do you want to change the world?