Rabbi Yonah Burr
Kedoshim: Best Friends With Hashem
ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני ד'
You Shall Love your fellow as yourself, I am Hashem.
A non-jew once approached Shamai and said; “I am willing to convert on condition that you are able to teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot!” Shamai, taking offense at the apparent arrogance of this man, hit him with a stick, and chased him away. The would-be candidate then approached Hillel, and presented the same challenge- “I will convert, on condition that you are able to teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot”. Hillel immediately responded, “that which you would not want someone to do to you, don’t do to someone else”.
The Maharsha explains, that this idea of Hillel, actually reflects the message of our verse, ואהבת לרעך כמוך – love your friend as yourself. The verse states the sentiment in the positive- love your friend; while Hillel expresses it in the passive, don’t do something to someone else that you wouldn’t want them to do to you. The Possuk is giving us the highest level, while Hillel is giving us an entry level, at the very least behave to others the way you would like them to behave towards you.
Hillel offers this attitude as “the entire Torah”- Everything else is commentary. All the Mitzvos between man and his neighbor are self-evident and obvious, if we would simply keep this common-sense rule.
Rashi, [there in the gemara] quoting a verse in Mishlei gives us an even deeper explanation: ריעך וריע אביך אל תעזוב-זה הקב"ה do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father- This refers to Hashem. Love Hashem as yourself, treat Hashem as a friend, love Him, and develop a relationship with Him. And to this, Hillel says, at the very least, treat Him the way you would like to be treated: just as you would want someone to appreciate you, and do your bidding, so too, should we at the very least treat Hashem.
According to Rashi, this certainly is the key to the entire Torah! Imagine how easy everything would be if we would think and consider Hashem as our very best friend!
How fortunate we are, that we are invited to literally become ‘friends’ with HaKadosh Baruch Hu- to serve Him, speak with Him, Love Him, and allow Him into our lives!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!