You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am HASHEM. (Vayikra 19:18)
I know that I am not the first one to ask these questions but they are calling out for answers. How can the Torah legislate on the heart and command us to love a fellow Jew?! Why is this important verse punctuated – crowned with the words, “I am HASHEM”? What is that adding to the equation?
Let us begin from a point that seems far from the subject. Everyone knows there is no such thing as “mother nature”. It’s kinda like the tooth fairy. Everybody plays along but knows it isn’t true. The Hebrew word for the natural world is HaTeva which has a numerical value – a gematria of 86. The name for HASHEM as He is manifest in this world is Elochim which is also 86. This helps us understand the “nature” is actually repeating miracles. When something happens once, we call it a miracle but when it happens repeatedly and predictably then we call it nature.
Recently I discovered another word that has the numerical value of 86, “Halleluya”. What connection could this possibly have? Hallel is actually an expression of overflowing excitement. It’s wildness. The end of the word has two letters YUD and HEY. The sages tell us that HASHEM made this world with the letter HEY and Olam Haba – the Next World with a Yud. The Yud is the smallest of all the letters. It’s a dot. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s also the light at the beginning of the tunnel. Like a star it seems almost insignificant from a distance but as we approach it, we understand it’s infinitely larger than any sun. It’s an Ohr Ain Sof – An Endless Light as the mystical books describe it. While in the narrow chamber, the tunnel of this world it’s like the filament in the light bulb that floods this world with ultimate meaning.
We mentioned that this world was made with a Hey which is open broadly on the bottom because there are many ways to fall out and fail but there is a narrow window on the top for one to reenter with Teshuvah. The older and the more experiences I have had with the world, the more I appreciate that sketch-like portrait of this world.
The Maharal points out (all puns intended) that the Hey is comprised of two letters, a Dalet which represents and means poverty and a Yud. There are two important implications. Without the Yud – Olam Haba we are destitute in this world. Secondly Olam Haba is to be found in Olam HaZeh -this world. That’s why it’s called Olam Haba, literally “the world that comes” because it comes from our behaviors and attitudes in this world. Wow! Once these ideas are discovered we can become wild with excitement and intoxicated with joy. The world around us is dense with meaning. We can recite Hallel about the Yud and the Hey that fill and surround creation. The is not a natural setting but a remarkably miraculous place with endless possibilities. Wow!
Someone pointed out to me that the word “KOS” cup is also 86. Dovid HaMelech said, “My cup overflows…” To the real spiritual giant, the debate is not whether or not the cup is half empty of half full to discern who is the optimist and who is the pessimist but rather the cup is full and beyond. That’s how Dovid HaMelech perceived the world.
I have been thinking about this for a while now but just last night for the first time I was gazing at the words V’Ahavta L’Reyecha C’Mocha – Love your neighbor like yourself, and I started counting and lo and behold, the word K’Mocha – like yourself is also the gematria 86. Hmmmm! I am thinking that once we realize that the world is rich with RUCHNIOS – ultimate spirituality then we understand about ourselves that we are truly wonders of creation. That view helps us to love our fellow because he too is miraculous being. He is “just like you”. HASHEM punctuates the verse because it’s only that HASHEM permeates the world and is apparent in me that I can now identify Him in others, just like me.