“Love your neighbour” as long as he’s Jewish

In his “The Distinction between Jews and Gentiles in Torah,” Rabbi David Bar Chaim proffers a profusion of rabbinical sources that “brother” and “neighbour” refer to the fellow Jews only, as in Leviticus 19:17-18, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”

Rabbi Chaim (his introduction):

“Over the past few years, there has been a recognizable trend amongst different circles in the religious community — a humanistic/universal inclination. There are many who have written in praise of love, “for all men who were created in the image of G-d.” We have even been “graced” with a pamphlet of this name, Chaviv Adam Sh’nivra B’tzelem, composed and edited by Mr. Yochanan Ben Ya’acov, the Director General of the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement. The explicit goal of those who share this outlook is to prove that all men are equal, that it is forbidden to discriminate against any man on the basis of his race, and that anyone who claims the opposite is nothing but a racist, distorting the words of the Torah in order to fit them to his “dreadful” opinions.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Bar Chaim, is described as a “gifted lecturer and energetic motivator is a product of Yeshivat Hebron. He has also studied Dayanut at Machon Harry Fischel. Rabbi Bar Chaim was mainly responsible for the establishment of the Nahal Haredi program. In addition to his relentless dedication to the Nahal ( he also serves

as a Mashgiach in Yeshivat Be’ar Avraham. He resides with his wife and family in Jerusalem.” I explain the terms Nahal and Haredi -“Nahal,” more correctly “nachal” (נחל) is the (acronym of Noar Halutzi Lohem, lit. Fighting Pioneer Youth. It is an Israeli Defense Forces infantry brigade, which combines military activities with farming. “Haredi” (more correctly, “Charedi” חֲרֵדִי) Judaism is the most conservative form of Judaism. Haredis are referred to as “ulta-orthodox,” which they regard as a perjorative term. The Nachal brigade is a cooperative effort of Charedi rabbis, the Israel Defense Force and the Ministry of Defense. Members of the brigade are given the scope to maintain their strict Charedi standards.

We see that Rabbi Chaim plays prominent roles in both Jewish orthodoxy and the Israeli Defence Force, and, therefore, his appraisal of rabbinic tradition – no matter how unpalatable it will certainly be to many Jews (and to all Gentiles, of course) – must be treated seriously. I now present a few excerpts from Rabbi Chaim’s essay, in which he makes no bones about the radical separation between Jew and Gentile, where the latter is considered to be no brother or neighbour of the former.

Killing a Gentile

“We learn from the Mechilta that a Jew who killed a Gentile with intent is not put to death by the Beit Din, as he would be had he killed a Jew. The halacha is the same concerning a ger toshav, as is explicitly stated in the Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on the above mentioned verse: “‘Upon his neighbor’ — with the exception of others, ‘his neighbor’ — with the exception of the ger toshav.” (Ger toshav – resident alien ; see more here).

Saving a life “

…it is written in Yere’im paragraph 175 (Schiff edition, in other editions paragraph 248): “…and it is called murder only concerning a Jew, as it is written: ‘who murders his neighbor’ — the murder of one’s neighbor is called murder, but the murder of a Gentile it is not called murder.” And in the continuation of his statement: “Subsidiary [prohibition] of murder: not to kill a Gentile, as we learned in the beraitha in Avodah Zarah chapter 2 (page 26a): The Gentiles and shepherds of small cattle are not raised [from the pit] nor lowered [into it].”[8] According to Maimonides, the Yere’im, and Rabbi David HaKochavi, one who kills a Gentile does not transgress the negative commandment ‘you shall not murder.” And: “It must be pointed out that a Jew who wanted to engage himself in the saving of the life of a Gentile which involved a transgression of the Sabbath, and did so in front of witnesses and after being warned, is put to death by the Beit Din — this is self evident.”

I am reminded here of Mark 3:1-6: 1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

So, healing on the Sabbath was enough to get Jesus killed, never mind claiming to be Lord of the sabbath (and, more outrageous, the Son of God): “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath (Mark 2:27-28).”

Robbery and theft from a gentile

“Thus Rashi wrote on the aforementioned beraitha which appears in Sanhedrin 57a, s.v. yisrael b’goy mutar: “For ‘You shall not exploit your neighbor’ is written, and it is not written ‘a Gentile,’ but there is a Rabbinic prohibition, according to the one who says that robbery of a Gentile is forbidden because of desecration of G-d’s name in the last chapter ‘HaGozel’ [chapter 10 of Bava Batra].” Thus it also appears in Bava Metzia 111b: “And since the first Tanna learned the law from the phrase ‘his brother,’ what does he do with the phrase ‘his neighbor’? That phrase comes to teach something in his view also, as stated in the beraitha: ‘his neighbor’ — and not a Gentile. But isn’t it appropriate to learn that a Gentile is excluded from the phrase ‘his brother’? One [phrase] comes to permit exploiting him [a Gentile] and the other comes to permit robbing him, as he holds that robbery of a Gentile is permitted.”[16] And so it is determined in the commentary attributed to the Ran on Tractate Sanhedrin 57a. Thus, too, ruled the Rama in Even HaEzer, paragraph 28, section 1, and also the Maharshal in Yam shel Shlomo on Bava Kama, paragraph 20.” You shall not hate your brother (neighbour) “It is written in the Torah (Leviticus 19:17): “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall certainly rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on his account” — so it is clearly stated in the Torah that this prohibition specifically regards Jews. And so Maimonides wrote in The Laws of Mental States, chapter 6, halacha 6 (in the printed edition, halacha 5): “Anyone who hates a Jew in his heart transgresses a negative commandment, as it says: ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart’.” Thus he also wrote in Sefer HaMitzvot, negative commandment 302, and likewise it appears in Sefer HaChinuch, commandment 245 (in other editions 238).” You Shall not Avenge or Bear a Grudge — And You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself “It is written in the Torah (Leviticus 19:18): “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” — here also the verse yells out “the children of your people.” In Torat Cohanim on the portion of Kedoshim, chapter 4, halacha 12: “You shall not avenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people — but you can avenge and bear a grudge against others” (that is, against Gentiles — explanation of the Ra’avad). In the words of Maimonides in The Laws of Mental States, chapter 7, halacha 10 (in the printed edition, halacha 7): “One who avenges against his fellow transgresses a negative commandment, as it says: ‘You shall not avenge’.”

Let us return to the scripture passage that we started with; Leviticus 19:17-18, especially verse 18 (I capitalise ”but”): “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, BUT thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” The ”but” connects “the children of thy people” to “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” One grammatical possibility is that “neighbour” refers (back to) the ”children of my people,” Israel. Another is the following as described by Kenneth Reinhard, whom I shall refer to again shortly:

“Readers who limit the meaning of “neighbour” to fellow-Jews often point out that verse 18 falls into two halves, in which the thought of the first part, “Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people” continues in the second, “and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” These interpreters claim that “neighbor” merely reiterates “children of thy people,” and that the verse specifies two types of duties, negative and positive, owed to other Jews.”

“The particle, Reinhard continues,  that links the two halves of the verse, however, can indicate equally a relationship of conjunction or conclusion (“and” or “therefore”) and one of distinction or exception (“yet” or “but”). Hence we can just as easily understand the second clause as qualifying the first, and the entire verse as distinguishing between the two groups, fellow-Jews and neighbors; although this reading does not determine who precisely the re’a is, it has the effect of extending the category of the neighbor at least beyond the limits of the covenant.”

This may be so, but the point I want to make is that there is a very strong tradition held by many stalwarts of the oral law such as the Rambam (Maimonides) who hold the same view of our Haredi rabbi above. In this regard, I return to Reinhard and refer also to Rabbi Schulweis from their respective articles, “The Ethics of the Neighbor: Universalism, Particularism, Exceptionalism” by Kenneth Reinhard, and “The Ethics of the Neighbor” by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis.

Both articles can be found here http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/tr/volume4/index.html

Kenneth Reinhard

“Although one of the critical elements of the Christian revaluation of Jewish revelation involved the attempt to enlarge the category of the neighbor, disagreement as to the reference of re’a—the “neighbor” in Leviticus 19:18—was also a key point in some of the major ideological and interpretive splits within the rabbinic tradition. The dominant strand of Jewish interpretation of the commandment, from Onkelos (second century C.E.) and Maimonides (twelfth century) at least until the Emancipation in the eighteenth century, has argued that re’a in Leviticus 19:18 refers exclusively to a fellow-Jew, a brother-in-covenant. And indeed at many other points in the Bible there can be no doubt that re’a is strictly limited to the children of Israel. Commentators in this tradition often impose further limitations within the realm of the “fellow-Jew.” Maimonides, for example, seems to confine the category of neighbor solely to observant Jews, to “him who is your brother in the Law and in the performance of the commandments.”

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

“A case in point is the verse of three Hebrew words: V’ahavtah l’rechah kamocha, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” How simple—how clear. How are we to love the “neighbor?” And who is my “Neighbor?” Not only are the interpretations different in each different tradition, but they vary within the same tradition. The “love” imperative takes on different meanings. There are rabbis who, on semantic grounds, argue that “thy Neighbor” refers to b’nai amecha, “the children of your people.” Others go further in restricting the meaning of “neighbor” by maintaining that “neighbor” refers only to “good” Jews, to “observant” Jews, achichah b’torah uv’mitzvot,” your brother in law and observance.” Those who argue for a restrictive and exclusivist interpretation of “Neighbor” are thinkers of great prominence such as Maimonides and Rashbam (Rabbi Samuel Ben Mayer of the 11th Century). In the Likutei Amarim, Rabbi Schnayer Zalman, the founder of Chabad, interpreted the passage most of us understand as universalistic in a highly restrictive manner. When the Prophet Micah says, “Have we not one Father, has not one God created us all?” he refers only to real brothers, that is, to Israelites alone, for the source of their souls is in their one God.”

The discussion has pivoted around Leviticus 19:18. But what about verse 33 of the same chapter? Surely this verse resolves the matter: “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself,for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

In the discussion so far, we have been exploring the rabbinic literature of the past. I end with this recent snippet of rabbinical anti-Gentile incentive (and invective), which bolsters the Charedi conviction that there has been no broken links in the oral chain from Sinai to the battlefield. “Rabbis in the Israeli army told battlefield troops in January’s Gaza offensive that they were fighting a ‘religious war’ against gentiles, it has been revealed.” Sources for Rabbi Chaim’s essay are found here and here.

21 thoughts on ““Love your neighbour” as long as he’s Jewish

  1. So what else is new, Bog?

    This is not new, and who care what people say anyway? If the Rabbis say that meat that is bought in the market and not in special Kosher stores is unclean, does it really make it so? When this idiotic rabby take Lev. 19:18 out of context, does it mean he is right, in light of Isaiah 56:1 and 6-8?

    You are making a big deal out of this.

    • Dan, the Haredi rabbi (Rabbi David Bar Chaim) you are slamming cited many rabbinical sources for the assertion that Jews, in God’s eyes, are of more value than Gentiles. Also the rabbinical literature that Rabbi Chaim refers to (which I assume you are slamming as well) is part of the Talmudic tradition, is it not? And as we know, that tradition, the rabbis (and you?) claim, has an unbroken line beginning at Sinai.

  2. “And as we know, that tradition, the rabbis (and you?) claim, has an unbroken line beginning at Sinai.”

    You must be kidding Bog. I don’t claim that at all. Where do you get your information, at Wal-Mart? Who care what the Talmud say? Where did Yeshua say that it is binding for the believer, even that He himself participated in some of the traditions?

  3. What do you mean by :believe in an oral Torah? do i believe it exists? Yes? Do I believe it is from Sinai? no. do I believe it has authority just as or above the written Torah? Not at all.
    Do i believe that the oral Torah has things to teach us? Yes I do. Do I believe that what the oral Torah teaches is binding? No.

    • I don’t find your “oral” problematic, but I do find your oral LAW/TORAH problematic. A crucial issue is that the definition of “oral law/Torah” is inseparable from 1. Revealed at Sinai and 2. Unbroken chain of transmission. Without these two, I suggest that one is left with oral TRADITION. And it was these oral traditions that the Lord Jesus mentioned, and gave examples of.

  4. The definition of Torah can also be “instructions.” so in the concept of the oral traditions I don’t find in the term Tora any diviations.


    1) the definition according to who?

    2) the chain was broken after the last Zugot. If you read Avot, you will find that the phrases “Qibbel” and “Massar” stopped with Hillel and Shamai (the last of the Zugot). it only appeares once more in the chain of tradition with Yohanan Ben Zakkai.

    • Yes, “Torah” means etymologically “instruction,” – all words have a linguistic history. Another example “halacha” derives from “walk.” The “full” meaning of these words signify much more. Take the term “psychoanalysis”; it can be broken down into analysing the mind (psyche means more than just the “mental”). The etymology is right but you would only end up with the sediment at the bottom of your wineglass. As you probably know, “psychoanalysis” is a particular, a Freudian (with subsequent variations), method of getting to the bottom (ana-lysis) of the unconsciousness.

      So, I think we should not redefine accepted terms by either reducing them to their etymons or inflating them out of recognition. I gave you the accepted definition of “oral Torah,” which is an (orthodox) Jewish term.

      What you say further about the chain of transmission being broken is another matter, and which is interesting. Have you written about this topic on your blog. If so, I’d like to read it. Or if you can give me some sources (yours are always very good), that would be nice.

  5. I am not trying to redefine anything. I go by Scriptures. Every time that the term “Torah” appears in the singular, the context is the Law. Every time it appears in the plural is instruction.

    תורתי–Torahti—My Torah. ( Jerem. 31:33).

    תורותי –Torothai– My instructions. (Gen. 26:5).

    Read the works of Jacob Neusner and Shaye Cohen. it is priceless for the amount of information furnished.

    Also see if you can obtain a copy of H.L. strack’s in colaboration with Gunter Stemberger : ” Introduction to the TALMUD and MISHNAH.

    Neusner introduction to his translation of the MIshnah is excellent.

    One more: A RABBINIC ANTHOLOGY by C.G. Montefiore & H. Loewe,
    Very, very informative of the thinking of the Rabbis on various subjects.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Rafael,

    You seem to be under the impression that Jews view themselves as superior. You seem to resent the Jews.

    At least, that’s how your essay’s headline comes across.

    Do you feel that calling yourself “one daring Jew” excuses, romanticizes or validates your anti-Semitism?

    • Anon
      The headline, I agree is harsh. Yet if the Talmud does say that non-Jews are of an inferior humanity to Jews, the headline is not inappropriate. And please distinguish between Jews and Judaism(s).

      • Knowing the history of Christian persecution of the Jews, it’s a shocking insult to Jews, to the intellect, and to decency, to listen to how Jews supposedly consider Christians to be untermenschen.

        Shame on you.

        • Anon
          It is indeed shocking the things that Rabbi Chaim says about Jews being Übermenschen. He claims, though, that your kind of thinking, namely, “all men who were created in the image of G-d,” is a humanistic/universal inclination” that is an abomination to Torah truth. Don’t you think your shame is a tad misplaced?

          I notice that you haven’t questioned the shameful Talmudic sources of our Rabbi of the Haredi Brigade.

          • Should the Jews ever get round to having 2,000 years of innocent blood on their hands, as you irrationally fear, I’ll agree to shift the focus to criticizing them for considering others subhuman (something they have never done, by the way, since that attitude contradicts their values).

            But in the meantime we are left with the facts of actual history. We are left with the reality that there are 2,000 years of innocent Jewish blood on Christian hands. We have 2,000 years of gentiles persecuting what they considered “eternally wandering”, “condemned to hell” Jews from the “synagogue of Satan”. We have real life expulsions, pogroms, Jew taxes, and yes, even genocide, all perpetrated by Europe’s professing Christians.

            And you want to complain about theoretical Jewish persecution of non-Jews based on attitudes that are not accepted by the Jewish people!?? That’s just nuts, Raf.

            What happened to your shame?

            • Anon

              Your “We are left with the reality that there are 2,000 years of innocent Jewish blood on Christian hands.”

              As long as a Jew, or anyone else, thinks he/she is innocent, there is no (eternal) hope for that person. Before you pass judgment on the 2000 years of Christianity, you should consider the previous 1500 years of Jewish history in which (relatively) much more Jewish blood was shed. Yes, shed by evil people, but ordained by the Holy One of Israel. Shame on Him? No, you won’t want to go there.

              And, Jewish persecutions and decimations in Israel’s ancient history is, of course, directly connected to subsequent history; for that is how history (His story) works.

              • Raph
                You’ve articulated that:
                [A] Christians are excused from responsibility for their oppression of the Jews that Christians perpetrated as a consequence of Christian ideology, because, after all, prior to Christianity some gentiles were also hostile toward the world’s oldest people.

                [B] The Jewish victims of Christian anti-Semitic persecution were not innocent, but deserving of the unilateral violence they suffered.

                [C] When Christians behave like animals, they cannot be blamed; it’s G-d’s fault.

                All of these premises are deeply logically flawed, inherently anti-Semitic and a rebellion against the very morality expounded by the G-d of the Hebrew Bible.

  7. Pingback: Love your neighbor as yourself « Inspirations
  8. Pingback: What is God for? Ask your neighbour « OneDaringJew
  9. Reblogged this on OneDaring Jew and commented:

    If Mohammad (Allah?) can call Jews monkeys, why can’t Jewish rabbis call Muslims and all non-Jews by the same appellation?

    The Jew World Order Exposed by Brandon

    Zohar states: “’living soul’ refers to Israel, who have holy living souls from above, and “cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth” to the other peoples who are not ‘living soul’.”

    This view is corroborated by the crazed ravings of many prominent Jewish rabbis, including many of Judaism’s most revered sages. Take for instance, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), the founder of the extremist Jewish sect “Chabad” who cursed Gentiles, claiming we possess evil souls: “Gentile souls are of a completely different and inferior order. They are totally evil, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever… All Jews are innately good, all Gentiles are innately evil.” (quoted in Foxbrunner, A. Roman. Habad: the Hasidism of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady. University of Alabama Press, 1992, p. 108)

    Rabbi Kook the Elder, the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism, said, “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews—all of them in all different levels—is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.” (quoted in Shahak, Israel & Mezvinsky, Norman. Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. London: Pluto Press, 1999, p. 176)

    The late, highly revered Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the “Lubavitcher Rebbe” who headed the Chabad movement and wielded great influence in Israel as well as in the U.S., explained that, “The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: ‘Let us differentiate.’ Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of ‘let us differentiate’ between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world…A non-Jew’s entire reality is only vanity. It is written, ‘And the strangers shall guard and feed your flocks’ (Isaiah 61:5). The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews…” (Ibid., p. 59)

  10. Pingback: Love Your Neighbour as Yourself? | Impressions

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