(Haftara: Amos 9:7-15)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 1)
1. [19:2] “…be holy, because I, God, your Lord, am holy.” How can God ask us to be like Him? Isn’t this impossible?
2. [19:11] “…don’t lie to each other.” Our tradition tells us that the place in the Torah where a mitzvah is written is significant. It relates to either what comes before or what comes after. Why does the commandment to be honest with another person come directly after the commandment to care for the poor and the weak?
3. [19:14] “Don’t curse the deaf, and don’t put an obstacle before the blind…” These behaviours are obviously metaphors for behaviours that are more common. Which behaviours are these metaphors for? What character traits is the Torah trying to develop in us by telling us not to do these things?
4. [19:18] “…and love your fellow person like you love yourself “. The Torah assumes that one loves himself or herself. If someone has a low self-image, and does not love himself or herself, what should he or she do? How can a person come to love him or herself? How can a person come to appreciate and love another person?
5. [Haftara: Amos 9:15] “I will plant them on their land and they shall no more be uprooted…” Why is the metaphor of planting and being uprooted a good metaphor for the relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Israel? Does every nation relate to its land the way that the Jews relate to Israel or is there a difference between nations?
[Leviticus 19:18] “…Love your fellow as you love yourself, I am God.”
Why does the pasuk end with “I am God”? The Torah is God’s Torah, so it seems unnecessary to say “I am God”.
To love your fellow as you love yourself is very difficult. To do it properly one needs time, effort, patience and insight. So God is encouraging a person and saying, “If you really want to integrate this quality of love, I will help you.”
–The “Sfat Emet”, Rebbe Yehudah Leib Alter of Gur (1847-1905)
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer