Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor lyrics
This chant is based on a traditional tune which was originally arranged by a friend of mine, Gabriel Meyer Halevy. I have kirtanized it of course, and love what we have done with it, but there is still something about Gaby’s version which I hold dearest.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is one of the most famous verses in the entire bible. Many Christians – and even Jews – assume that it was first uttered by Jesus, but, in truth, it comes from an unlikely place, the book of Leviticus (19:18). Jesus was quoting it in the Gospels as the very essence of all religious law.

In the preparatory teaching for this chant, I pointed out the extra words with which Gaby chose to frame the biblical verse: “Behold, I take upon myself the obligation (Mitzvah) of the Creator are wonderfully profound. From this hint, I concluded that the very purpose of creation was the fulfillment of this verse, that this universe came into existence in order that this statement be realized. In other words, the created order only exists, so that we can realize this highest of goals. [REPETETIVE!]

We had a lot of fun with this chant. It is highly improvised throughout, as you can hear. I found myself exceedingly playful throughout. At one point, I purposefully lull the audience (and the posse) into a sing-song rhythm of one phrase, only to purposefully catch them off-guard with a sudden switch. See if you can find this moment!