As we celebrate Thanksgiving, the lovely holiday when families are gathered along with close friends and guests, when the spirit of this special holiday is filling us with relaxation and with sentiments of joy and love, we’ll introduce in this coming month words and phrases that concur with these fine sentiments of kindness, joy and love as we received requests to present such words for some time.
The most important deed of love and kindness to others in Christianity and in Judaism is identical and it appear for the first time in the Book of Leviticus:
‘You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord’.
In Hebrew, this very famous expression is pronounced: ‘ve•a•hav•ta le•re•a•cha ka•mo•cha’. Pay extra attention to the phonetic nuance in the recording because the first word, which is identical to the first word of the commandment in ‘Shema’ (Hear O Israel prayer), is mispronounced by most Jews and Christians alike in the US. They wrongly put the stress on the wrong syllable. We invite you to take a significant step and pronounce the most important commandment of both the Old and the New Testaments correctly. And, no! you are not released from this commandment even if you wholeheartedly believe in grace over works!
In Judaism, it was equated as the most important rule of the Torah by the most famous sage, Rabbi Akiva, who lived around the time of the revolt against the Romans (between ca 17-137 ca) and whose name is mentioned over 1,500 times in the Talmud. He was on equal footing with the famous Rabban Gamaliel II.
Whereas it appears only once in the Old Testament, it is mentioned six times in the New Testament among which, once directly by Jesus. Hence, the paramount importance of this rule makes it the central ethical principle in Christianity as well. The New Testament however, inherently and explicitly calls this rule The Paramount Law.
‘Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Another strong support for the paramount importance of this rule is described in these verses:
‘For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
‘For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not give false testimony,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”