27/28 Apr: Shabbat Acharei-Kedoshim comes in 8:03 pm, ends 9:12 pm
Probably the best known verse in this week’s reading is: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Great line, though, what exactly does it mean? What does “love” mean, in practical terms, and, who exactly is our neighbour? Next door? The whole block? The whole neighbourhood? The people who sit near us in shul? How do we express our love? The most obvious question of all, what if we happen to have a neighbour who is an obnoxious boor?
The preceding verse to “love your neighbour” is “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove, seriously criticise your fellow, and do not bear guilt because of him,” gives us a possible explanation. Perhaps we “love” our neighbours by not letting bad feelings build up. We need to let off steam if someone has offended or hurt us — feelings eventually lead to hate. The key to pulling this off is – communication. Of course it’s not easy to know when the right time to speak up is. Loving is hard. Criticising can be painful. Who is our brother, who is our neighbour, who is our responsibility? I think these verses together remind us that we need to be connected, positively to everyone around us. Most of us are are still working on getting it right.
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman.