When asked which commandment was the greatest, Yeshua answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, saying, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: Yehovah our God, Yehovah is one. And you shall love Yehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” On several occasions, I have heard it admitted that Yeshua was quoting the Law (“Torah” in Hebrew, meaning “teaching”) in regard to the first commandment but that he created his own edition of this teaching by adding the instruction of loving your neighbor as yourself. However, this is not correct. In regard to the first commandment, he quoted Deuteronomy. Regarding the second, he quoted Leviticus:
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yehovah.” –Leviticus 19:18.
In summarizing the idea of loving one’s neighbor, Yeshua previously taught what later became known as the Golden Rule:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Torah and the Prophets.” –Matthew 7:12.
The Golden Rule surely summarizes the essence of the Torah, but it surely does not replace it. This is why Yeshua says, “This is the Torah and the Prophets,” rather than, “This replaces the Torah and the Prophets”. Similarly, Paul says in Romans 13:9-10:
“If there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Torah.”
Paul did not mean that Leviticus 19:18 or the Golden Rule should subvert or replace all the other commandments in the Torah rendering them null and void, for such a teaching would contradict the words of Yeshua our Messiah in Matthew 5:17-20. Rather, he meant that love towards God and love towards man is the inherent purpose underlying all Yehovah’s commandments. The reason our Creator gave us His Word was so we could know how He wants us to love Him and how He wants us to love each other:
1John 5:2-3, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
So, if loving God and loving our fellow man is the purpose of the commandments in the Torah, what does it mean if we ignore them?