Kedoshim– Detox (Love your Neighbor)

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kinfolk; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.   You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:  I am the LORD.  (Lev 19:17-18)

It says “neighbor” because love isn’t abstract, but takes place in the context of a community—or rather communities, since we typically belong to several.  The strength of our love will be in proportion to the felt strength of those community ties.

It’s also not abstract because we are being asked to love someone whom we believe has hurt us.  We are admonished to forego vengeance but also—and this is harder for most of us—not to bear a grudge.  The idiom is instructive: we don’t “have” a grudge, we “bear” a grudge.  We deliberately choose to shlep the toxic little thing around with us everywhere we go, unwilling to extract vengeance, but also unable to let it go.   Kushner articulates the grudge mentality thus:  “You hurt me so much.  But I am a nice person so I won’t hurt you back.  Instead, in very small doses, I will just poison myself for the rest of my life.    I will carry around the injury you caused me as a special part of my psyche.  I will watch it and guard it.  But I’ll never tell you.”  (The Book of Words)

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