What is the minimum requirement to not be transgressing the mitzva of "ואהבת לריעך כמוך" "love your fellow as yourself" (Lev. 19:18)?

For example, must one actively try to love others or it is enough if he is just neutral (doesn't care, doesn't dislike) others to not be transgressing this precept.

  • Check out the חינוך, at mitzvah 243.
    – MTL
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Most Rishonim hold that the obligation to love a fellow Jew does not demand a person to feel a specific emotion. Rather, it asks of a Jew specific actions. A Jew must act towards his fellow with care, protecting his property and his honor. Notably, the Ibn Ezra holds the mitzvah to be literal. Sources are provided below:

The Rambam writes: Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot 6:4

One must speak praise of another person and be cautious with another’s property in the same way that he desires to be honored and is cautious with his own property.

The Chinuch, Mitzvah 243, writes:

One should treat another person in the way he would treat himself, e.g. protecting his property, preventing him from being harmed, speaking only well of him, respecting him, and certainly not glorifying oneself at his expense...In general, he should act in a way of friendship and love, seeking their benefit and being happy in their good.

The Maharsha writes (Chiddushei Aggadot, Shabbat 31a ):

The answer is that the mitzvah itself is a type of prohibition just like the other mitzvot in this verse, e.g. not taking revenge and not bearing a grudge. “And you shall love your fellow as you love yourself” is not an imperative to bestow an equal amount of goodness upon another, which we know from the legal principle of “Chayecha kodmin” – “Your life comes first.”

However, the Ibn Ezra does write Vayikra 19:18:

In my opinion, the meaning of the verse is as it sounds, namely, that one should love his friend in the same way as himself.

The other commentators disagree with him, but his point still leaves something to strive for.

English translation taken from here.


I wrote about this subject once, I hope this will be of some help:

בדבר המצוות פרשת קדושים

The Ramban says that it is impossible for a person to literally love his friend as himself, but one should be happy when something that he would appreciate comes to his friend (as opposed to jealousy et cetera).


Mitzvos can be divided into two categories: those with clearly set parameters whose obligation one can either discharge or not, and ones which one can always fulfill more and more. Examples of the first category include shaking Lulav, not wearing shatnez, eating matzah on Pesach, etc. Examples of the second category are loving God and fearing God. (See beginning of Hamaspik L'ovdey Hashem of R. Avraham Ben HaRambam). One might assume that members of he former category dont have minimum requirements just as they don't have maximum requirements, but R. Avraham writes (there) that these mitzvos DO have minimum requirements. Presumably the mitzva to love your fellow as yourself is a member of this category.

Regarding this particular mitzva, Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos shoresh 2) writes that it includes visiting the sick, consoling mourners, and burying the dead. It also includes an implicit prohibition to despise him. (Sefer Hamitzvos neg. 302). Also included are "bringing in the bride", escorting guests, eulogizing the dead, gladdening the groom and bride, providing them with meals (Mishne Torah Hil. Avel 14:1) and praising others and concerning oneself with their financial well being (Hil. De'os 6:3) and redeeming them from captivity (Hil. Matnos Aniyim 8:10).

The Orchos Chaim (kibbud av v'em 5) quotes Ri of Corbeille that this includes judging others favorably. Ohel Moed (Shaar Reishis Chochmah Haaruch derech 3 n'siv 4) writes that this also includes bringing peace between man and his fellow.

  • thank you but how does this answer the question?
    – ray
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 19:44
  • 1
    @ray maybe I misunderstood the question. I provided 14 minimum requirements of the mitzvah from Rishonim. These go beyond the realm of neutrality and into the realm of activity.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 0:14
  • care to love your fellow as yourself and explain yourself commentless downvoter?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 3:20

Dont do towards others that you would not have done to yourself. These are the words of Hillel to the person who wanted to be converted while "standing on one leg". The source is Shabbos 31a

דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד

It is expressed in a negative way which seems to limit its application,

  • Do you have a source for this? The bounty marker specifically requests "answer[s] drawing from credible and/or official sources."
    – Scimonster
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 17:34
  • how does this answer the question?
    – ray
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 18:09

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