Perhaps one way in which we can help address the unprecedented stabbings and car attacks that is transpiring in Eretz Yisroel is through strengthening ourselves in the Mitzvah of v’Ahavata l’rayacha kamocha.
To this end, it is worthy to note that a new Sefer highlighting the Psakim of the Posek HaDor, HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zatzal was released by the Machon L’Hotzaas Kisvei uPiskei Maran Rav Elyashiv. The rulings and language format were shown to Rav Elyashiv zt”l by his grandson Rabbi Israelson, before he passed away.
What follows below is a section culled form that work on Bain Odom l’Chaveiro. Some of the material, of course, may be obvious, but it needed to be articulated in order to get a bigger picture of this important Mitzvah.
It is a Mitzvah incumbent upon every individual to love every member of of Klal Yisroel, as it says, “v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha.” Anything that you would want others to do for you in Torah and Mitzvos you should do for them.
Included in this are physical acts of gmilas chessed, such as visiting the sick, comforting mourners, attending a funeral, bringing joy to a chosson and Kallah and helping others in all their needs.
NEGATING THE MITZVAH
One who does something to his friend that he himself would not have wanted done to him is in violation of abnegating this Mitzvah. He will suffer on this account (Avos D’Rav Nosson 16 and Shabbos 31a).
Indeed, even if you personally do not care if this embarrassment was done to you, it is still forbidden to embarrass others in this manner (Chofetz Chaim Toras Kohanim Kedoshim 12)
JOINING IN HIS JOY AND PAIN
One must rejoice in the good turns of other members of Klal Yisroel, as well as participate in their sorrow (Sefer Chareidim 9:28 in Mitzvos HaTluos B’Lev). Therefore, if one hears that there is a simcha of an individual , one must make it one’s business to be happy in his simcha. When a friend has a tragedy, chas v’shalom, one must share his pain with him.
HELPING AND PRAYING FOR OTHERS
There is an obligation to help others in all that one can. One must also daven for them to save them from their pain. One who requests mercy on his friend in front of him, does not need to mention his friend’s name. When it is done not in the presence of his friend, must mention his name (Introduction to the Chofetz Chaim’s Ahavas Chesed and Mogen Avrohom 119:1, Mishna Brurah ibid).
A person is also obligated to think thoughts of advice that one can give to his friend. These thoughts should be useful and effective. Indeed, this is one of the methods of performing Gmilus Chassadim. If he provides him with untenable advice he is in violation of “v’lifnei iver lo sitain michshol – placing a stumbling block before the blind.”
SPEAKING POSITIVELY OF OTHERS
One must also speak positively about other members of Klal Yisroel. However in front of someone who has a dislike for the person, one may not sing his praises, because it may lead to negative speech about that person. Indeed, even if the positive remakrs are not actually said in front of the enemy, but there are such people that are present there, it is also forbidden to speak positively on him. Others say that even in front of his loved ones one should not over-praise him because on account of his praise negative speech may ensue (Sefer Chofetz Chaim 9:1).
LIMITATIONS OF POSITIVE SPEECH
Even though there is a Mitzvah to speak positively of others, it is forbidden to incorrectly state that the person is very wise and one can completely rely upon him if the truth is that this is not the case. Why? Since it may cause damage to others if they rely upon his advice and statements. One may also not state that another person is an honest person who can be relied upon if he does not necessarily know that it is true.
OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH OTHERS
When the opportunity is presented to an individual to teach Torah to fellow Jews, even if they are children, and it is not possible that this be done through others – there is an obligation to teach them. Even if through this the person will miss out on his own deeper Torah learning. This is true just like any other Mitzvah.
TO HAVE IN MIND THE MITZVAH
Regarding the Mitzvah of v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha and like in other Mitzvos that are between man and his friend – one should have in mind when doing the favor to his friend that he is doing so for the sake of a Mitzvah. For it has been established that Mitzvos require intent (See OC Siman 60). However, if this was not done – it does not negate the Mitzvah like in other Mitzvos – since the other party is benefiting from it the Mitzvah still counts (See Kovetz Teshuvos II #23).
NOT TO LOSE OUT ON INCOME
A person is not obligated to lose out on his income in order to perform work for others, for Rabbi Akiva has already come and taught “Chayecha Kodmin l’chayei chavercha – your life takes precedence to that of your friend.” From here we learn that there is no obligation to love one’s friend to the exact same extent as one love’s oneself, since the nature of a human being is not ready to accept such a thing (Yad Haketana Assei #3).
WHO IT DOES NOT APPLY TO
The Mitzvah of v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha applies specifically to one who is rayacha – a peer in Torah and Mitzvos. However, if the other person is evil – that is he sees that he violates a well-known sin as being forbidden, and he does not accept rebuke, it is a Mitzvah to dislike him. However, someone who has merely fallen off track – it is a Mitzvah to pray that he return in Teshuvah (Mogen Avrohom 156 and Mishna Brurah #4).
EVEN TO CHILDREN
This Mitzvah even applies to children. Therefore one should not cause them pain or agitate them if not for purposes of education by their parents and teachers.
BEFORE EACH PRAYER
A person must accept upon himself to love every member of Klal Yisroel. Before each Tefilah this should be verbalized with the following formula: I hereby accept upon myself the Mitzvah of v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha.
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