by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “Love your fellow man as yourself, I am the Almighty” (Leviticus 19:18).
Why is the commandment to love our fellow human being followed by the words “I am the Almighty”? The great Rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, clarifies that while the commandment to love our fellow man is a concept that anyone can relate to with his own intellect, the Torah tells us to love our fellow man because it is the Almighty’s will.
If your love of other people is based only on your own feelings, there could easily be a lack of consistency. One day you might feel positive towards someone and on the next day your feelings can change. However, the Torah states that the Almighty commands us to love others. We need to develop positive attitudes towards others by focusing on their virtues whether it comes easily to us or whether it is difficult.
Everyone thinks that it is a good idea to love your neighbor, but how can the Almighty command us to love our neighbor? Some of us have neighbors who are awfully hard to appreciate! However, if the Almighty commands it, it must be possible. If you ask a pregnant woman if she will love her baby, she’ll look at you like you’re nuts and say “Of course!” Then you can ask her, “How do you know? Maybe he’ll be like your neighbor!”
A pregnant mother knows she will love her baby because she will make it her business to love that baby. And what if the baby grows up to be an irresponsible teenager flunking out of school who doesn’t make his bed? She’ll still love him! How? She focuses on his good points! “He has a good heart! He’s got a sweet personality! He helps when I ask him to.” If we make a list of someone’s positive traits and focus on them, we can generate a good feeling towards them.