Parshat Kedoshim: The golden rule

Brennan Stewart
Brennan Stewart (Stefanie Stewart)

By Brennan Stewart

This week’s Torah portion is about God telling the Israelites some new rules. One rule is to treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself. This is what is known as “the golden rule.” This rule helps society function, so instead of people being mean to each other, they help each other out. Another way this law can be interpreted is that what goes around comes around, so you have the potential to spread good and bad things to other people. We want the good things. This rule helps people in any society build trust and good relationships.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is very broad, yet very important. It is basically the Torah in one sentence. Martin Buber connects this commandment to a previous commandment that says, “You shall not seek or take vengeance, or bear a grudge.” He says that every human being is connected to each other, so to hurt another person in order to get revenge is also hurting yourself. Going out of your way to get back at someone often doesn’t make you feel better, and may even make you feel worse.

Treating others the way you want to be treated can connect to other rules in this week’s portion, like peah and leket, because these rules have to do with treating others kindly. My family values treating people with kindness. When I was turning 9 years old, instead of keeping gifts for myself, I donated them to a children’s hospital because they needed them more. I hoped that donating toys to sick children would make them happy during a time that was difficult. Another example of my family and me treating others with kindness is that we keep bags of food and toiletries in our cars, called blessing bags, so that if we see a homeless person, we can give them food, water and toiletries.

When I help people who are less fortunate than me, it makes me feel accomplished and proud of myself. Giving to others and others giving to you ties the community together and benefits everyone. Maybe this is one of the reasons that God tells us all of these rules.

Brennan Stewart is a student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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