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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Does “Love Thy Friend as Thyself” Give Us?

What does the law (Klal [14]), “love thy friend as thyself” give us? Through this law, we can come to love the Creator. If this is so, what does keeping the 612 Mitzvot give us?

First, we need to know what a law is. It is known that a collective (Klal) consists of many individuals. Without individuals, there cannot be a collective. For example, when we refer to an audience as “a sacred audience,” we are referring to a number of individuals who have gathered and formed a unit. Afterwards, a head is appointed to the audience, etc., and this is called a Minian (ten/quorum) or a “congregation.” At least ten people must be present, and then it is possible to say Kedusha (specific part of a Jewish prayer) at the service.

The Holy Zohar says about it: “Wherever there are ten, Divinity dwells.” This means that in a place where there are ten men, there is a place for the dwelling of Divinity.

It therefore follows that the law, “Love thy friend as thyself,” is built on 612 Mitzvot. In other words, if we keep the 612 Mitzvot, we will be able to achieve the law, “Love thy friend as thyself.” It turns out that the particular elements allow us to achieve the collective, and when we have the collective, we will be able to achieve the love of the Creator, as it is written, “My soul yearns for the Lord.”

However, one cannot keep all 612 Mitzvot alone. Take, for example, the redemption of the first-born. If one’s first-born is a girl, he cannot keep the Mitzva of redemption of the first-born. Also, women are exempted from observing time-dependent Mitzvot, such as Tzitzit and Tefillin. But because “all of Israel are responsible for one another,” through everyone, they are all kept. It is as though everyone keeps all the Mitzvot together. Hence, through the 612 Mitzvot, we can achieve the law, “Love thy friend as thyself.”

[14] Translator’s note: In Hebrew, the word Klal means both “law” and “collective.” The author alternates between the two meanings.

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