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Love Your Neighbor: All Neighbors?

Is it valid to consider “ve’ahavta lere’acha kamochah” (love your neighbor as yourself) as only applying to Shomrei Mitzvot, based on “re’acha be-Mitzvot”?


As you note, re’acha implies somebody who keeps the Torah, and the mitzvah would not apply to those who do not keep the mitzvos of the Torah. However, many of those who are distant from Torah (today) would be considered tinokos shenishbe’u, who do not keep the mitzvos because they know no better. Chazon Ish writes of them that one must love them, and employ the “cords of love” in seeking to bring them closer to Judaism.

Sources: See Semag, Asin 9, who writes that the mitzvah of ve’ahavta le’re’acha kamocha applies only to those who keep Torah, and not to the “wicked.” According to Chazon Ish, the average secular Jew, even of his time (and the more so of ours) is not “wicked,” but unfortunately ignorant, and must be loved and cared for (see Chazon Ish, Yoreh De’ah 1:6; Orach Chaim 87:14).

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