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Love Thy Neighbour

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

22 Av 5764
Question
Regarding the Mitzvah of loving thy neighbour: 1. What should be our position regarding the arab countries surrounding Israel? They are a constant threat but how should we treat them with this Mitzvah in mind? 2: How should we treat a criminal, evil man? 3: Does the Mitzvah only apply to jews?
Answer
The Mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew applies only for Jews to fulfill like all the Torah that is only applicable for Jews. Nevertheless even though we have no Mitzvah to love a non Jew, there are many halachot that teach us to treat the non Jews and other nations with respect, dignity and even love, we mustn't deceive them nor steal from them and so on and so forth. In Jewish philosophy we learn about the love we should have towards all creatures let alone humans. If a nation or an individual is challenging our sovereignty over our land or is threatening the welfare of our citizens, we must retaliate and prevent that in the best way available. That again has nothing to do with our love and respect towards non Jews. Same is for a criminal. We love him for being a Jew as the torah commands yet we punish and execute if needed according to Jewish law. The Talmud adds that even one that was sentenced for capital punishment we should try to find the least painful way to die because of the Mitzvah of Vehahavta Lereacha Kamocha – love your fellow Jew.
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