Love Your Neighbor… I am the Lord

Kids say the darndest things. And give the most wonderful, unexpected divrei Torah.

In Parashat K’doshim, the text states, “ואהבת לרעך כמוך, אני ה” — “[L]ove your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”. Today, in shul, I asked my nine-year-old student, Daniel, “Why, when God tells the Israelites to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ does it immediately follow with ‘I am the Lord’?”

I gave Daniel 25 minutes to percolate on the question. He came to find me when he had it.

Daniel’s answer: “Maybe it means that God created you and He created your friend, and you should each be thankful to God for creating your friend, so that you could be friends.”

The traditional interpretation of this verse, of course, is the well-known “Do unto others as you’d have done to you,” the so-called “Golden Rule”. Many of us remember the story of Hillel and Shammai, when Hillel tells a prospective student “Love your neighbor as yourself; the rest is commentary.” For better or for worse, we get stuck in the commentaries of our learned Sages and forget to reinterpret with the innocence of children. Let us, as we read our sacred texts, remember to read innocently and with our own distinct interpretations.

עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה
“[The Torah] is a Tree of Life to those who hold strongly to it.”

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