In the seven berachot soon to be recited under the Chuppah and also during the seven-day celebration following the Chuppah there is a mention more than once of two concepts. One is reiyim — friends — and the other is ahavah — love. We refer to the both of you as “reiyim ahuvim” — “beloved friends” — and we pray that Hashem gladdens you beloved friends as He gladdened Adam in Gan Eden. In the last of the seven berachot we praise Hashem Who created ahavah — love — and reiyut — friendship.

These two concepts are also found in Kedoshim — the Torah portion of this week. In one of the most important and extremely popular verses of Torah we are commanded “Ve’ahavta lerei’acha komocha” — “Love your friend as yourself.”

Undoubtedly, this command is all-inclusive and is not limited to any particular segment of the Jewish people. Though the term “rei’acha” is used, it doesn’t apply only to a friend with whom you have an ongoing relationship and friendship but it includes every Jew, even one you never met.

Nevertheless, since the Torah does specifically use the term “rei’acha” — “your friend” — perhaps we could say that in addition to all peoples, it speaks particularly of a Chatan and Kallah who are indisputably considered reiyim ahuvim — loving friends. The Torah is advising them how to remain loving friends, not only during the great moment when they are standing under the Chuppah together, or for the seven days of celebration, but for their entire married life.

This verse has been expounded by all schools of Jewish thought — Chassidut, Kabbalah, Mussar—and various methods of interpretation, such as Homiletics or Numerology. To quote them all would be impossible. Therefore permit me to suffice with sharing with you one beautiful thought expressed by the great Chassidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

Reb Levi Yitzchak asks the following simple question: The word “kamocho” — “as yourself” — seems superfluous. It could have simply said “ve’ahavta lerei’acha” — “love your friend?”

Reb Levi Yitzchak explains that the Torah is not instructing how much a person should love his friend, or putting any limit that it be komocho — as yourself — and not more or less. In fact, according to him there is no restriction on how much to love another Jew, and it is permissive and even encouraged to love another Jew even more than oneself.

The Torah is, however, conveying advice for achieving the noble trait of loving another Jew. Torah knows that it is human nature not to see one’s own faults. Even a person with many failings will, due to self love, not readily condemn himself. This is substantiated by King Shlomo’s statement, “Love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12), and what greater love is there than self-love? Nevertheless, it is human nature to see and recognize the faults and wrongdoings of others and even to condemn, admonish and ridicule them for it.

Hence, the Torah is teaching that you should love your fellow “kamocha” — “as yourself” — just as you love yourself. Just as you overlook your own faults, you should act precisely the same way concerning your friend.

A wise Chatan and Kallah must bear in mind that all the years of married life are not always as jubilant as the moment of standing under the Chuppah. Life brings many hardships and disappointments, times of trials and tribulations, and moments when one partner wants to blame the other.

The Torah advises the rayim ahuvim — beloved friends — that before offering criticism or condemnation, remember the apparently superfluous word “kamocha” as interpreted by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

Stop and think, “Am I looking at my best and loved friend, my spouse, kamocha — the same as I would look at myself or am I perceiving my friend the same as I would perceive any other stranger?”

If every husband and wife would always bear in mind the beautiful interpretation of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, many marriages would be prolonged and much agony would be spared to so many Jewish families!

My dear Chatan and Kallah, if your entire married life is imbued with the spirit of seeing each other kamocha, you can be assured that you will experience the conclusion of the verse — “Ani Hashem” — “I am Hashem.” Hashem will be happy to rest in your abode and bestow upon it and you His heavenly blessing begashmiyut uberuchniyut — materially and spiritually.

"קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה' אלקיכם"
“You shall be holy, for I am holy, G‑d your G‑d.” (19:2)

QUESTION: On this pasuk, the Midrash Rabbah (24:9) says, “Kedushati lema’alah mikedushatchem” — “My holiness is greater than yours.”

Why is it necessary for the Midrash to inform us that Hashem’s holiness is greater than ours? Why would we think otherwise?

ANSWER: Indeed, the intent of the Midrash is not simply to inform us of Hashem’s greatness, but to relate an important message to K’lal Yisrael. Every Jew is able to add to the holiness of Hashem, by conducting his life in a way which is a Kiddush Hashem — sanctification of Hashem. People impressed with the behavior of the Jewish people will ultimately praise Hashem.

Thus, in effect Hashem is saying, “Kedushati lema’alah” — “My holiness [in Heaven is] — mikedushatchem” — “dependent on the holiness of your conduct on earth.”

(מאיר עיני ישרים בשם ר' דובער זצ"ל ממעזריטש)