WE MUST LOVE GOD, OUR FELLOW, AND OUR LAND
by Professor Gerald Aranoff (Arutz Sheva News)
We read in this week’s parsha in Israel: You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another. You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not defraud your fellow. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God: I am the Lord. You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your kinsman fairly. Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow: I am the Lord. You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:11-18).
The world-famous positive command Love your fellow as yourself is here among many negative commands: you shall not …, Do not….
Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Rashi says this refers to bad-mouthing.
Talmud Tractate: Kethuboth 46a: “?Whence is the warning against bringing up an evil name [upon one’s wife] deduced? R. Eleazar replied: Do not deal basely with your countrymen (Leviticus 19:16).”
Talmud Tractate, Eiruvin 54b, cites Proverbs 5:19 to tell us how much we must love Torah. The Talmud compares love of Torah to the love a man might have for a woman.
Eiruvin 54b: “R. Samuel b. Nahmani expounded: With reference to the Scriptural text: A loving doe, a graceful mountain goat. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be infatuated with love of her always (Proverbs 5:19). Why were the words of the Torah compared to a doe? To tell you that as the doe has a narrow womb and is loved by its mate at all times as at the first hour of their meeting, so it is with the words of the Torah They are loved by those who study them at all times as at the hour when they first made their acquaintance. a graceful mountain goat? Because the Torah bestows grace upon those who study it. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times? Why were the words of the Torah compared to a breast? As with a breast, however often the child sucks [lit. feels searches] it so often does he find milk in it, so it is with the words of the Torah. As often a man studies them so often does he find relish in them. Be infatuated with love of her always? As was the case with R. Eleazar b. Pedath, for instance. It was said of K. Eleazar that he sat and studied Torah in the lower market of Sepphoris while his linen cloak lay in the upper market of the town [R. Eleazar presumably left his cloak with his wares in the upper market while, absorbed in his studies, he went down to the lower one oblivious of both his cloak and his wares.]. [It was taught] R. Isaac b. Eleazar related: A man once came to take it and found a venomous serpent in it [Providential protection of the property of the just].”
God’s wonderful blessing is for man to have a strong everlasting physical attraction to his mate. King Solomon in Proverbs 5 wisely advises a man to be satisfied with his wife and never look elsewhere:
Drink water from your own cistern, Running water from your own well. Your springs will gush forth In streams in the public squares. They will be yours alone, Others having no part with you. Let your fountain be blessed; Find joy in the wife of your youth—A loving doe, a graceful mountain goat…Why be infatuated, my son, with a forbidden woman? Why clasp the bosom of an alien woman? (Proverbs 5:15-20)
Reading King Solomon’s advice in a plain reading, a man should acquire a wife (Drink water from your own cistern…) and love her and always be attracted to her (Be infatuated with love of her always).
A blessed and fortunate man loves his wife. Men and women have many pursuits: to acquire a home, to have children, and to provide for the family and others. It’s a blessing when we have deep attraction and joy in all our pursuits.
We can compare love of Torah—to love a man might have for a woman or to love of a fine country. We must love keeping the Torah – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5) and we must love our fellow man.
Israel is our home. We have deep attraction and joy in our home, Israel.
Love of the land of Israel is much like love of Torah and love a man for a woman.
We must not bad-mouth Israel as did the wicked spies. Rashi says on Numbers 13:2: “Why is the section on the spies place after the section on Miriam because she was stricken on matters that she spoke on her brother, and these wicked saw and did not take reproof.”
We must not speak evil of God. Proverbs 18:7-8: “The fool’s speech is his ruin; His words are a trap for him. The words of a querulous man are bruising; They penetrate one’s inmost parts.”
The Malbim says here: “His outer, superficial talk (lips in verse 6) against Divine providence (verse 5) prepares a snare for his soul, in which he is trapped by his serious, thoughtful talk (mouth). Then comes calamity, involving Divine physical punishment as well. The querulous man complains that the Almighty created him for a miserable life, evil being more prevalent than good, would that he had never been born. The Almighty (says he) has abandoned him to a chance fate. His words are like blows, as though Hashem were always striking him down. The truth is, however, that the clouts and blows are all within, from his own perverse vision of things. He forever broods and fumes. Imagining that others have everything he lacks and all Heaven’s favors to him seem evil. God made man upright and whole, but he distorts his life with his perceptions.”
We must not do as the foolish and wicked man who speaks evil of his wife, his neighbor, his country and his Creator. The fool and the wicked speak ???? ???. We must be as the wise and be grateful and joyful to God for His abundant blessings He gave us, life here in the Land of Israel. We must love our family, neighbors, country and God.