On Loving Your Fellow As Yourself: The Alter of Kelm, zt”l

Here is a teaching from the Alter of Kelm, zt”l, paraphrased from a post by R’ Micha Golshevsky (original source link below):

The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, explained that feeling and showing love for one’s fellow is the most important way to develop one’s middos (character). “Our sages famously teach: ‘ואהבת לרעך כמוך’ is a כלל גדול בתורה (“to love your fellow as yourself is the great principle of the Torah”). This means that through loving one’s fellow one is able to truly fulfill the Torah. This is because focus on love for one’s  fellow slowly diminishes arrogance and anger which are the products of negative self-love.”
He added, “This is also why we find that during judgment one will be asked whether you have made your friend a king over yourself. This is the critical factor in determining how much a person accepted the yoke of heaven. This is another way to understand the statement, “אמירתו לגבוה כמסירתו להדיוט”. The more completely one gives himself over to his friend, the more effective his words of Torah and tefilah (prayer) will be.”


Author: Matthew Zachary Gindin

Freelance journalist and teacher. I write regularly for the Forward, All That In Interesting, and the Jewish Independent, and have been published in Religion Dispatches, Situate Magazine, Elephant Journal, and elsewhere.

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