Ahavat Reacha (Love Your Neighbor)
YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
The second command as written in the Torah (Wayy/Lev. 19:18):
V'ah-hav-ta l'ray-ah-cha ka-moh-cha.
And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
The Second Great Command cannot be separated from the first. They are equally important—just like how the two tablets of stone together make up the Covenant. You cannot do one and not the other: You cannot truly love Elohim without loving your neighbor, and you cannot sincerely love your neighbor without loving Elohim.
Loving YAHUAH is loving your neighbor.
To love our neighbor as our self, we must learn to see others the way YAHUAH sees them. YAHUAH looks at a person’s spirit. He sees the pure being that He created and housed in a fleshly body. He knows that each person is good. He knows that each person is a part of Himself, His child, and He loves and cares for each one deeply. Even if a person is steeped in sin—He knows His being is pure and that he is a part of Himself. YAHUAH still loves him.
That’s how we must see others. We have to learn to look past a person’s outside covering and see the pure spirit within him. Even someone with the ‘roughest’ exterior still has goodness at his core. Ever since a person’s birth, he’s been plagued and attacked by the enemy. The adversary led him to sin. The adversary sent uncleanness to attach to his being. The adversary placed troubles in his life to cause a hardened or unpleasant personality. From day one, the adversary caused that person’s flesh to increase more and more. His flesh grew while his spirit remained malnourished and undeveloped.
We must remember that YAHUAH is the Judge. We do not judge others. We cannot look at a person’s exterior—looks, possessions, status, bad habits, or personality—and judge their worthiness. Their being is being held captive and once YAHUAH sets them free—who knows just how set-apart and righteous he may become!
That's why we must learn to nurture a person’s spirit. We must draw others to YAHUAH for cleansing and purification and spiritual growth. Only true, sincere love draws another to the Father. Our love is the Light that draws all men to YAH. When we extend ourselves to show love, they are drawn a little bit closer to YAHUAH. Each act of love is a step closer. Someone may be one step away from freedom, and our light of love may be just what he needs to draw him that last step. Who are we to deny him that? YAHUAH is the Judge.
What we focus on in our own lives largely determines how we act toward others. If we’re mostly concerned about money, material possessions, food, work, entertainment, etc., then that’s an indication that we’re emphasizing our flesh more than our spirit. We will then be more inclined to look at others according to the flesh. We will always see faults because our focus is just on the outside—things of the flesh. (Funny how we always see more faults in others than ourselves.)
On the other hand, if our focus is primarily on spiritual matters, matters from above, and we spend time studying the Word, praying, and seeking Elohim, then our spirit is emphasized more than our flesh. We strengthen our spirit and deny the flesh. When we see our own spirit as being most important, then we will be much more likely to regard another according to the spirit and not according to the flesh.
When we love our neighbor as our self, then we have completed Torah. All of Torah is about the Spirit prevailing over the natural and physical. So when we reach the point where we can see one another according to the inner spirit and not according to the flesh, then we have completed Torah. We can truly love our neighbor.
How do we love? We love by being concerned for others. Be aware of the needs and situations of those around us. Be mindful of their needs and concerns. Be conscious of their fears and worries. Be thoughtful of their wants and desires. Whatever we want, we also want for others. Whatever we don’t want, we don’t want for others. Whatever we’d do for ourselves, we’re willing to do for another. The same attention and concern we have for our self and our own family, we have for someone else and his/her family. Essentially, we take our neighbor’s priority list and add it to our own—so that they are indistinguishable.
When we love our neighbor, we help them fill both physical needs and spiritual needs. Whatever I want for myself, I want for another. If I desire my physical needs to be met, then I should do whatever I can to help another meet his physical needs--food, clothes, housing, finances, etc. If I seek to have my spiritual needs met, then I should seek to meet the spiritual needs of others--teachings, Scriptures, a word of encouragement, support, kindness, prayer of peace, etc.
We extend ourselves (sometimes going above and beyond as we would like others to do for us) and help in whatever way we can so that another’s well-being is improved. And we help in a way that is completely independent of our self—we don’t try to better our own image and we have no ulterior motives, expecting nothing in return. We love and give simply because it pleases Elohim and because that person’s life is improved. How great it is to bring joy and peace to another person!
Always look for opportunities to help someone else. Look at the people around you, wherever you are, and think of their situation. Consider their physical needs and their spiritual needs, needs which they may not even know they have. Then, ask yourself: "If I were in that same situation, what would I want someone to do for me?" Then do it.
Truly, when we step out of our own little world, the ‘bubble’ of our life, and focus on someone else, YAHUAH focuses on us. When we work on meeting the needs of others, YAHUAH meets our needs. YAHUAH is trustworthy. He always blesses obedience.
Who is our neighbor?
Our neighbor is not only our fellow Yahudim, but anyone who is in need. YAHUAH is the Father of all. He created everyone on this earth and breathed life into all. All men are created in His image and His likeness. If we truly love YAHUAH with all our heart, all our being, and all our might, then we will see His likeness in every person we meet and be able to express unconditional love for everyone because we love the Father.