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    Levels of fellowship – the last word

    The final word in the Ten Commandments is re’echa, “your fellow”.

    Does it mean your fellow-Jew – or your fellow-human being?

    The word comes several times in the Torah. The most famous instance is Lev. 19:18, where we are told v’ahavta l’re’acha kamocha, “You shall love your fellow as yourself”.

    This is part of a whole mini-code about one’s fellow: the Torah says, lo ta’amod al dam re’echa, “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your fellow” (Lev. 19:16).

    But is re’echa a fellow Jew? It certainly includes him, but is that where it stops?

    Look at Ex. 11:2, where it says that tells the Israelites on the eve of the Exodus to ask their fellows for objects of silver and gold. There doesn’t seem much point in asking for these things from fellow Israelites, who were not likely to possess such valuable items.

    The context of “fellow” is, as the conventional translations say, “your neighbour” – i.e. the Egyptians. Rashi points to Gen. 15:14, which speaks of the Hebrews leaving Egypt “with great substance”.

    It seems that our attitudes towards our fellows (one’s re’im) are meant to apply to all human beings whatever their ethnicity.

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