Love Thy Neighbor, Love Thy Self

לֹֽא־תִקֹּ֤ם וְלֹֽא־תִטֹּר֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י עַמֶּ֔ךָ וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ …

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against members of your people. Love your fellow as yourself.

Love your fellow as yourself is, perhaps, one of the most quoted psukim in this week’s Parsha. It crosses denominational, and even faith lines — it is the cornerstone of functional civilization: Love Thy Neighbor.

It is a direct commandment to treat those of us who share community space with us fairly, equally, and with love. Interestingly it comes right after a request not to hold any grudges…against the very same people.

Here — we are recognized for who we are — and who we also most fear being. We are seen as flawed, vulnerable, imperfect human beings who will hold grudges against our friends, neighbors, colleagues. Our struggle with sadness and disappointments with others in our hearts is being validated. Our big feelings are seen, held, and comforted by the naming of what we most fear — being imperfect.

It is as though G-d sees us when we are trying really, really hard to appear like we “have it all together”, when we might be falling apart behind big smiles. We, who are made in G-d’s image, are vulnerable, fallible, and sometimes — broken. Sometimes we do hold grudges. Sometimes we do fantasize about how we will “get the upper hand” again.

Then, we are reminded to love. We are reminded that our fellow can be as imperfect as we are, that they are vulnerable as we are, and that they battle internally as we do. We are reminded that big smiles can hide deep sadness. That big feelings show us a need.

When we see our own vulnerable, imperfect self as whole — we can give it love. When we can give our own vulnerable, imperfect self love, we can see hold others — vulnerable and imperfect as they are as well — with love. Our children, our parents, our siblings, our colleagues, our friends.

We can love them as our self when we see our self with all its beautiful pieces — cracks and all.

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