"Love your fellow as yourself"—Leviticus 19:18

In our "Low Self-Esteem Era," this verse may seem problematic to many who simply don't love themselves.

If I don't love myself and if I only see the (usually imaginary) negative in myself, how can I implement this all-important mitzvah? By loving my fellow like I love myself? Woe is me on such a love!

Don't let your wrongdoings tarnish your self-perspectiveHow can I share something I don't have? How can I accept another if I don't accept myself? How can I give you the benefit of the doubt if I don't grant it to myself? As the saying goes: "You can't give away a penny you don't have!" (Unless you're the government…)

It is clear that the mitzvah to love your fellow [as yourself] must begin with nurturing a true love and respect for yourself.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, said that the prohibition against gossip includes gossiping about oneself. You may not talk badly about yourself! You may not even think that you are bad. No matter how negative and harmful your actions might be, it doesn't make you evil.

Don't ever let your wrongdoings tarnish your self-perspective. You are always a child of G‑d; you are good. As the bumper sticker asserts: "I know I must be special because G‑d don't make no junk!"

Love yourself and love your fellow.

Here's a challenge:

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw two columns. In the right-hand column write down ten of your positive attributes and on the left side write down ten negative characteristics.
  2. Time yourself to see how long it takes to fill up each column.
  3. Repeat until the right column wins.