Acharei Mos & Kedoshim 2007

This Shabbos we read two parshas - Parshas Acharei Mos, and Parshas Kedoshim. In Parshas Kedoshim the Torah tells us the famous commandment “Lo Sikom Vlo Sitor es bnai amecha, v’ahavta l’raiacha kamocha, ani Hashem” – “Don’t take revenge, or bear a grudge against any fellow Jew; You shall love your fellow neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem.” What’s the connection between the commandment not to take revenge, and the mitzvah to love our fellow Jew? Why are these two commandments placed next to each other? Another point must be addressed. Why does the Torah end the mitzvah of loving our fellow Jew with the statement “I am Hashem”? What is the connection between our relationship to Hashem and the obligation to love our fellow Jew?

The truth is that the commandment not to take revenge needs a lot of explanation. How can we expect a person not to take revenge? In Path of the Just, (Mesillas Yeshorim), Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato points out to us how difficult this commandment really is; he tells us that to man, “revenge is sweeter than honey.” How then can we avoid the normal human desire to take revenge?

When the Torah tells us to love our fellow man as ourselves, this point is addressed. How is it that I can really feel so much care and concern for another Jew as for myself? “I am Hashem” – I am the G-d of all of you. We are all the children of G-d. Deep down, the soul of every single Jew is connected. We are all really one. My fellow Jew is myself.

This idea can also help us with the prohibition of taking revenge. Let’s say we were going running to catch a bus, and we tripped over our foot, fell, and broke our glasses. Do our eyes get angry at our feet?” Obviously not. Since we are all part of the same person, there is no “you” and “me”. It’s all one big me. When the Torah tells us “I am Hashem”, the Torah is hinting to this same idea. Realize that you are all connected to the same source. “I am Hashem” – is a common bond that unites all of us. To bear a grudge against another Jew is just as smart as one part of our body bearing a grudge against the other.