Updated: Apr 3
There are many commands in the Bible but have you ever wondered what is the most repeated mitzvah (command) in the Torah? It may surprise you! According to ancient Rabbi's, and trust me they have studied and counted it out, this command is given more times than even the command to love God.
What is the command? According to the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer stated that “the Torah warns 36 times, and some say 46 times, not to oppress the stranger” (Babylonian Talmud, Bava M'tzia 59b)
Now this command is stated in several different ways but it all has the same meaning. In fact, in the Torah portion Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 – 24:18) the command itself is stated twice in that parashah alone.
Do not tread down a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Mitsrayim.
And do not oppress a sojourner, as you yourselves know the heart of a sojourner, because you were sojourners in the land of Mitsrayim.
Why is this so important for our understanding? Because it ties directly to the words of Leviticus 19:18 and the words of Yeshua.
Do not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am YHWH.
When asked “which is the greatest commandment?”, Yeshua stated The Shema (Deut. 6:4-5) and then quoted Leviticus 19:18 as being like it in greatness.
In Torah this command in Leviticus 19:18 holds so much weight that some Rabbi's stated that it was the greatest commandment of all. The reason: you cannot love Elohim if you do not love your neighbor.
The question is “who is your neighbor”?
Well, this is a question that was asked of Yeshua and we have His reply given in the form of a parable in the New Testament. Before we discuss that let's first examine this word “neighbor” in the original Hebrew.
The word used for neighbor in Hebrew more rightly means a “fellow man”. By the time of the first century the word had evolved to mean “a fellow countryman”. However, Yeshua refuted this use of the word.
In John chapter 10 we read the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Yeshua was asked “who is my neighbor?”, He told a striking illustration, in His usual style, a parable.
It is obvious from the story that our “neighbor” is not just our “countrymen” or close friends. Our neighbor is truly our fellow man. Sometimes it may even be our enemies or those we perceive to be our enemies. That was the point of the parable.
In conclusion, “love your neighbor (fellow man) as yourself” and “oppress not the sojourner” amounts to the same command and is the most quoted command in Torah. We are not just to love those who love us, we are to show love and compassion for all, treating them as we wish to be treated and caring for them as we would care for ourselves.
As Yeshua stated, “On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets”, Matthew 22:49.
As the first 4 commandments apply to the worship of YHWH, the last 6 apply to how we treat our fellow man.
All scripture from TS2009