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How to love your fellow as yourself

ואהבת לרעך כמוך
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In the synagogue on Shabbat we read famous words from the Torah that are not that easy to apply: "You shall love your fellow as yourself." How is this done? How can we love anyone as much as we love ourselves? Is this even possible?
1. The Ari Hakadosh, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi, suggested that each morning, prior to praying, we say the following: "I take upon myself the positive mitzvah of 'You shall love your fellow as yourself.' By adopting this habit, we can bring the mission of loving others into our consciousness on a daily basis.
2. It is said that "Our hearts follow our actions." Our sages advise that it is better not to think too much, but simply to act: to do favors for others, to be concerned about them, to give them tzedakah if needed, to help them according to their needs, to search for ways to make them happy. The more we give, the more we love.
3. Rabbi Chaim ben Attar, familiarly known as Or HaChaim, instructs us to pay attention to the continuation of the verse: "You shall love your fellow as yourself. I am the Lord." In other words, you shall love your fellow as yourself because I am the Lord, because God created both you and your fellow. And if both of you were created in God's image, that means you have the same creator, the same father, and therefore you are brothers. So how is it possible not to love someone so similar to you and who, like you, has a Godly spark within?
May we merit to love in this way or at least make every effort to do so. Shavua tov.


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