This week’s Torah reading contains many commandments. Some occupy several verses, while others take up only part of a verse, sharing “verse space” with another mitzvah. It is interesting to analyze these “compound verses” in an endeavor to find the unifying thread between the lumped-together commands. After all, there must be a reason why the Torah chooses to group together two mitzvot—often seemingly disparate ones—in one verse.

Let us examine a sequence of three such compound verses in this week’s reading.

You shall not go around as a gossipmonger amidst your people. You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow’s blood. I am the L‑rd. (Leviticus 19:16)

Jewish law forbids not only speaking of another’s flaws or misdeeds, whether imagined or true, but also prohibits “harmless” gossip. Information that you happen to know about another is confidential. It is none of Mr. A’s business what Mr. B did yesterday.

If you are oblivious to his troubles, you won’t be able to lend a helping hand or earThis may lead one to believe that he should close his eyes and ears, and take no interest in his fellow’s affairs—it’s private business. Therefore the verse continues, “You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow’s blood.” The biblical commentator Rashi explains this command: “Do not stand by, watching your fellow’s death, when you are able to save him—for example, if he is drowning in the river, or if a wild beast or robbers come upon him.”

You have to take a keen interest in your neighbor’s welfare. Otherwise, you won’t be able to rush to his aid in his time of need. You need to know when his bank account is in the red, or you won’t be able to give him the loan he needs. If you are oblivious to his troubles, you won’t be able to lend a helping hand or ear.

But at the same time, unless there is a beneficial reason to share this information, it must remain confidential.

You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account. (19:17)

Rebuking a wrongdoer is indeed a mitzvah, but there is a fundamental prerequisite: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” If the rebuke stems from ill-will towards the transgressor, then you have not fulfilled the mitzvah. The rebuke will certainly be disregarded, because the recipient of the chastisement will sense the animosity behind the harsh words. Instead, you, the rebuker, will bear a sin—the sin of unduly embarrassing and causing angst to another Jew.

An alternative explanation:

Rebuking is indeed a mitzvah, but there is a fundamental prerequisiteIf someone wrongs you, do not allow hate to silently fester in your heart. Rebuke him. Confront him with his actions. If done with respect and composure, chances are that the offender will apologize, or perhaps explain his actions, and friendly relations can resume. Silence, on the other hand, will never accomplish anything.

You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the L‑rd. (19:18)

The mitzvah of loving your fellow goes well beyond the societal norms of helping out and caring for a friend. Such love is a subtle form of self-centeredness—it’s helping another because he is your friend. True love expresses itself in abstaining from taking revenge or harboring a grudge against someone who has wronged you. If you can control your natural impulse to get even, you know that you truly care about that individual. After all, it’s coming at the expense of your own ego and prestige.