In the Talmud Yerushalmi, Nedarim 30b

ואהבת לרעך כמוך: אמר רבי עקיבא זה כלל גדול בתורה:

"You shall love your fellow as yourself. Said Rabbi Akiva: This is a great principle in the Torah."

What did Rabbi Akiva mean when he said that "Veahavta lereacho kamocha" is "klal gadol batorah"? Is it possible to read this as a legal statement, the same way any other legal statements might be designated as a "klal"? If so, what effect does it have?

  • When you say "as a legal statement, the same way any other legal statements might be designated as a 'klal'", are you thinking of the way the Bavli always jumps on a mishna that says "ze hak'lal", asking what it means to include? Or, if not that, then what sort of "other legal statements" are you thinking of, where the designation "k'lal" makes a difference?
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 15:11
  • @Msh210 "Veahavta lereacho kamocha" is a verse in the Chumash (vayikra 19:18) and Rabbi Akiva is stating it is a klal gadol. The prat is the very next line. I am god, keep my decrees.
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 18:11
  • @avi, oh, now I get it: you're saying that Rabi Akiva means that v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha is a k'lal (as in "Rabi Yishmael omer"). I tend to doubt it, as he would also have to say what he's using the k'lal for: is it part of a k'lal ufrat? a k. uf. uch.? a p. uch.? And what is/are the other p'suk(im) of such a d'rasha? Unless you have a source that says that that's what he means, I'll have to disagree WADR.
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 18:27
  • 1
    @avi:"I am G-d, keep my decrees" seems to be more general than specific?
    – Menachem
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 18:49
  • 1
    @Menachem, yes... But since Rabbi Akiva is NOT making a legal statement, I have no idea what would or would not be the prat. You can tell he isn't making a legal statement, because the counter argument to him is that 'Zeh Toldot Adam' is the real 'Klal Gadol b'torah'
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 19:07

4 Answers 4


The Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzva 243) writes that "Loving your fellow as Yourself is a great general rule in the Torah" because many mitzvot are dependent on it. Someone who truly loves someone else as himself would never steal from him, sleep with his wife, cheat him monetarily, encroach on his boundaries, or do anything to harm him.

So, to answer the question. According to the Chinuch, "Loving your fellow as yoursef" is the Klal (the General Commamdment) and all the other Mitzvos between a man and his friend are the Pratim (the specific examples(?) of this general rule).

Perhaps this is why Ben Nanas, when asked to find a verse which encapsulated (Kolel) the most of Torah, chose this verse. (Midrash brought by Yaakov ibn Chaviv in the introduction to his Ein Yaakov - See curriculum to this shiur for an english translation)

Follow these links to some different approaches to understanding Rashi on Kedoshim 19:18:

"You shall love your fellow[-Jew] as yourself. Said Rabbi Akiva: This is a great principle in the Torah."

  • That would be weird, that only in the 13th century the first mentioning of this "big principle" appears, and neither Rambam nor the Geonim see it this way!
    – Al Berko
    Commented Sep 26, 2021 at 13:37
  • @al I’m not sure what you’re saying. The question quotes the Jerusalem Talmud, which is dated to the 400s. Are you saying that this statement of rabbit Akiva was a later addition?
    – Menachem
    Commented Sep 26, 2021 at 18:18

The Klal Gadol of the entire Torah is to unify (m'yachaid) the entire creation with Hashem (Kudsha Berichu v'Shechinatei). This is the purpose of all Torah and mitzvos. It is what Olam Haba is all about. Thus, the idea of loving one's neighbor as oneself illustrates the unity of Jews for one another, which is a moshol (metaphor) for the yichud of the entire creation. It is what all of the mitzvos (prattim) are meant to achieve. Each one unifies a different aspect of ourselves and the beriah as a whole. That is what is meant by "the rest are details".

  • 1
    Chaim Baruch, welcome to the site. I hope you stick around and enjoy it. A source for each of your claims would make your answer much more valuable: without one, we readers only have your say-so to go by, and, with all due respect, we don't know you. Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – msh210
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 20:53

I don't think it's possible to read R. Akivah's statement as a legal klal, it's part of an agadatah, not part of halacha.

If taken as a legal statement, it would mean that you could never paskin something that which you would not be willing to do yourself.

It would also mean that you could not use halacha to do something to another person, that you would not be willing to have be done to you.

  • 2
    What is the source that one cannot paskin something that you don't want other's paskining to you? Doesn't a psak have to be emes l'amito? Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 16:49
  • There is no source that Hillel's statement is actually a klal! So, I doubt there is any source that we can't paskin that way either. But IF it was a klal, that would be it's ramification.
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 16:58
  • However, there is a concept of 'Torah darchei Noam' which would prevent an objectively harsh pska, irregardless of how the person giving the psak feels about it.
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 17:00
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    while many say that R' Akiva's statement was based on Hillel's, it may be useful to say that explicitly in your answer. Otherwise people might not see the connection between the question and the answer. Also, while the story with Hillel may be Agaddatah, the quote from R' Akiva comes from Torat Kohanim, which is Halachic Midrash: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sifra
    – Menachem
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 18:08
  • Meachem, if you look in the Talmud Yerushalmi, you will see it is agadatah. It is a list of possible statements which are 'klal gadol'
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 18:55

Toras Nistar teaches (especially the writings of the Ramchal) that just like before creation, there was only the unity of the Creator, and creation seemingly brought multitudes of creations, with separations and differences, and these are (seemingly) increased through not doing the Will of HKBH, which distances us from Him, it is our job through serving HKBH to bring all of creation back to absolute unity with the Creator again. This process starts in this world and continually through different stages of Olam Habaa, increases that absolute unity. It is teshuva which, when separated from HKBH through sin, brings us back to closeness, deveikus and eventually unity (Yichud). It's like a Klal u'Prat u'Klal. That's the purpose of creation, in a nutshell. For this reason, the mitzvah of vahavta le'rei'echa komocho is the klal (general principle) and greatest visual example of what all mitzvos do, in their own ways. All of the mitzvos and Torah, in general, are meant to bring us together, in unity, with our neshamos, with Klal Yisrael, with all of creation, and with HKBH.

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    How exactly does than answer the question? Commented May 14, 2015 at 7:07
  • I apologize for not explaining well. The Klal, or general principle, of creation, and thus of the Torah, is that all of creation will once again become One with itself and the Creator. When become closer with HKBH and others we become more unified with them in our relationship with them. Love in general is the most unifying of relationships. Loving our neighbor represents the general principle of creation, which is to become One, again, with the Creator and all creations. Loving our neighbor is not just a single mitzvah, it is a (or the) general principle which is the purpose of creation. Commented May 19, 2015 at 5:37

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