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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Jewish Social Justice: A Universalist Mandate?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on August 8, 2016)
Topics: Halakha & Modernity, Tzedakah & Social Justice, Machshava/Jewish Thought, Ethics

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In halakha, our obligations towards the other are mostly, if not exclusively, directed towards our fellow Jews.  In other lectures [hyperlink here to Circles of Responsibility and to the Jew-Gentile lectures that are relevant], we explore to what extent there is a basis in halakha for an obligation of assistance and support towards Gentiles as well.

Here we look at some passages that unabashedly articulate a certain universalist ethos.  The first series, from Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik, are of a more hashkafic nature.  The last one, from Sefer HaBrit of Rav Eliyahu Pinchas Horowitz, engages more directly in a halakhic discourse, but the role of ethics and hashkafa are clearly present.

Read the texts from Rav Kook {sources ‎1–‎2} and Rav Soloveitchik {source ‎3}. Specific guiding questions  for each piece appear below.  In general, for all these pieces, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is basic thesis of each text?  What are one or two key lines that express the essential argument of the text?
  • What is the source of a universalist ethos according to the text?  Is there a prooftext?  Is it source of a halakhic or religious nature? Is it “Jewish” in nature?  If so, how?
  • Does this universalist ethos create any obligations?  If so, what?
  • What is the value of particularism within this universalist ethos?  What are the dangers of a universalism without a concomitant particularism?

 

Rav Kook

(translations adapted from: “Abraham Isaac Kook”, Ben Zion Bokser)

 

Questions:

  • Rav Kook speaks of a universalist vision.  Where does this vision come from?  What is the source of valuing each individual and to remove divisions between people?
  • Does Rav Kook see any value in maintaining the particularist identity of individuals?  Of subgroups?  What would that value be?  How do you think the idea of a “melting pot” is different from that of a “salad bowl”?
  • What would it mean for Rav Kook religiously to not be imbued with this universalist spirit?
  1. Orot HaKodesh (Lights of Holiness), Rav Kook, Book 2, pp. 442-3, “Love of the World”  |   אורות הקודש, ח”ב, “אהבת עולם”, ע’ תמ”ב-תמ”ג
גדולי הנשמה אינם יכולין להיות נפרדים מן הכללות היותר מקיפה, כל חפצם ושאיפתם יהא תמיד טובת הכלל כולו, הכלל במלא רחבו גבהו ועמקו.  אמנם הכלל מלא הוא מפרטים אין חקר, מפרטים אישיים ופרטים חברותיים, אין הכלל מעוטר כי אם לפי מילואו בשלמותם של אישיו הפרטיים, ושל קיבוציו הקטנים והגדולים, המשלימים אותו.

הכללות העליונה, המשלימה כל, היא מונחת בתנועת דעת ה’ ואהבת ה’, היוצאת ממנה בהכרח, לפי גודל קנינה ועשרה.  דעת ה’ באהבה רבה, כשהיא מלאה את האור האמיתי שלה, לפי ערכה של כל נשמה כפי מה שהיא יכולה לשאת ולקבל, היא מבהקת באורה המוחלט את אהבת העולם, אבהת העולמים כולם, כל היצורים, וכל חוג החיים וההויה שלהם.  אהבת ההויה כולה ממלאת את לב הטובים, החסידים שבבריות, ושבבני אדם, לאושר של הכל הם מצפים, לאורה ולשמחה של הכל הם מיחלים, הם שואבים את אהבת כל ההויה, המגוונת בריבוי יצוריה, מאהבת ה’ העליונה, מאהבת השלמות המוחלטת והגמורה של סבת הכל, מחולל כל ומחיה את הכל…

משוקי אהבה הללו כשהם רואים את העולם ביחוד, החי, מלא קנטוריות, איבות רדיפות ונגודים, מיד הם עורגים להיות משתתפים בכל חייהם בשאיפות המביאות את הכללת החיים ואיחודם, שלומם ושלותם,  הם מרגישים ויודעים, שקרבת א-לוהים שהם עורגים אליה, במלא נשמתם, היא מובילה אותם רק להתאחדותם עם הכלל ובעד הכלל.  כשהם באים לשדרות האדם, ומוצאים פלוגות של עמים, דתות, כתות ושאיפות מנוגדות, הם מתאמצים בכל כוחם להכליל את הכל, לאחה ולאחד.  בחוש הרוחני הבריא של נשמתם הזכה, המעופפת מעוף א-להי ממעל לכל מצרים, מכירים הם, שהפרטים כולם צריכים הם להיות מלאים, שהצורות החברתיות היותר טובות צריכיות להיות מתעלות, ומתכנסות עם כל אושר פרטיהם באור החיים השלמים, הם חפצים שיהיה כל פרט שמור ומתעלה, והכלל כולו מאוחד ומלא שלום…

כשהם באים אל עמם, ולבם קשור בכל מעמק חייהם עם אשרו נצחו ועילויו, והם מוצאים אותו מחולק ומפורק, מפולג למפלגות, למפלגות, אינם יכולים להתאחד התאחדות גמורה בשום מפלגה, כי הם חפצים להתאחד עם האומה כולה, דוקא כולה בכללה, בכל מילואה וטובה.

Those who have expansive souls are not able to separate themselves from the most encompassing klal (totality).  Their entire desire and yearning is always for the benefit of the klal in its entirety, the klal in all of its width and height and depth.  However, the klal consists of infinite particulars, particular individuals and particular communities (or ‘social groupings’).  The klal is adorned only by its fullness of the particular individuals in their completeness, and of the small and large groupings that complete it.

The highest klal, which completes all, rests on the move to know God, to love God, and it emerges from it by necessity, in its fullness and richness.  Knowledge of God with an abundant love, when it is filled with its true light – according to the ability of each soul, and its capacity to receive and carry this light – it radiates forth with an absolute light the love of the world, the love of all the worlds, all creatures, and the entire circle of life and all of their existence.  The love of the entire existence fills the heart of the good, the righteous among the creatures, and among people.  They yearn for the happiness of all, and they hope that all may know light and joy.  They draw the love of all of existence, that is polychromatic with the multiplicity of its creatures, from the supernal love of God, from the love of the absolute and complete wholeness of the Cause of all things, that created all and that sustains all…

When these love-possessed people see the world, especially living creatures filled with quarrels, hatred, persecutions, and conflicts, immediately they yearn with all their being to share in those aspirations that move life toward comprehensiveness and unity, peace, and tranquility.  They feel and they know that the nearness of God, for which they yearn, can only lead them to joining themselves with the klal and for sake of the klal.  When they confront the human scene, and find divisions among nations, religions, parties, with goals and conflict, they endeavor with all their might to bring all together to mend and to unit.  With the healthy instinct of their noble souls, which soar with a divine thrust above all confinements, they feel that the individuals need to be enhanced, that the best of societies must rise to greater heights, and to enter with all the affluence of their individuals into the light of the universal life.  They want that every particular should be preserved and developed, and that the collective whole should be untied and abounding in peace.

When they confront their own people, to whose happiness, continuity and perfection they feel committed in all the depths of their being, and find it splintered, broken into parties and parties, they cannot identify themselves with any particular party.  They desire to untie themselves with the whole people, only with the all-embracing whole, in all its fullness and good.

 

 

Questions:

  • What, in this text, is the source of Rav Kook’s universalist vision?  What is its starting point, and how does it move beyond that?
  • What would it mean religiously to not move to the next steps towards greater universalism?
  • What does it mean to “sing the song” of a particular group?
  • What are the four groupings that Rav Kook describes?  Does he delineate the value of these distinct identities?
  • Is the goal to transcend these distinctions and achieve total universalist vision? Is it important that the distinct voices/songs are still heard?

2. “A Four-Fold Song,” ibid, pp. 444-445   |   שם, “שיר מרבע”, ע’ תמד-תמה

יש שהוא שר שירת נפשו, ובנפשו הוא מוצא את הכל, את מלא הסיפוק הרוחני במילואו.

ויש שהוא שר שירת האומה, יוצא הוא מתוך המעגל של נפשו הפרטית. שאינו מוצא אותה מרוחבת כראוי, ולא מיושבת ישוב אידיאלי, שואף למרומי עז, והוא מתדבק באהבה עדינה עם כללותה של כנסת ישראל, ועמה הוא שר את שיריה, מצר בצרותיה, ומשתעשע בתקותיה, הוגה דעת עליונות וטהורות על עברהועל עתידה, וחוקר באהבה ובחכמת  לב את תוכן רוחה הפנימי.

ויש אשר עוד תתרחב נפשו עד שיוצא ומתפשט מעל גבול ישראל, לשיר של שירת האדם, רוחו הולך ומתרחב בגאון כללות האדם והדר צלמו, שואף אל תעודתו הכללית ומצפה להשתלמותו העליונה, וממקור חיים זה הוא שואב את כללות הגיונותיו ומחקריו, שאיפותיו וחזיונותיו.

ויש אשר עוד מזה למעלה ברוחב יתנשא, עד שמתאחד עם כל היקום כולו, עם כל הבריות, ועם כל העולמים, ועם כולם אומר שירה, זה הוא העוסק בפרק שירה בכל יום שמובטח לו שהוא בן עולם הבא.

ויש אשר עולה עם כל השירים הללו ביחד באגודה אחת, וכולם נותנים את קולותיהם, כולם יחד מנעימים את זמריהם, וזה לתוך זה נותן לשד וחיים, קול ששון ורול שמחה, קול צהלה וקול רנה, קול חדוה וקול קדושה.

שירת הנפש, שירת האומה. שירת האדם, שירת העולם, כולן יחד מתמגזות בקרבו בכל עת ובכל שעה.

והתמימות הזאת במילואה עולה היא להיות שירת קודש, שירת א-ל, שירת ישראל, בעוצם עזה ותפארתה, בעוצם אמתה וגדלה, ישראל שיר א-ל, שיר פשוט, שיר כפול, שיר משולש, שיר מרובע.  שיר השירים אשר לשלמה, למלך שהשלום שלו.

There is one who sings the song of his own life, and in himself he finds everything, his full spiritual satisfaction.

There is another who sings the song of his people. He leaves the circle of his own individual self, because he finds it without sufficient breadth, without an idealistic basis.  He aspires towards the heights, and he attaches himself with a gentle love to the whole Community of Israel.  Together with her, he sings her songs. He feels grieved in her afflictions and delights in her hopes.  He contemplates noble and pure thoughts about her past and her future, and probes with love and wisdom her inner spiritual essence.

There is another who reaches towards more distant realms, and he goes beyond the boundary of Israel to sing the song of man.  His spirit extends to the wider vistas of the majesty of man generally, and his noble essence.  He aspires toward man’s general goal and looks forward toward his higher perfection.  From this source of life, he draws the subjects of his meditation and study, his aspirations and his visions.

Then there is one who rises toward wider horizon, until he links himself with all existence, with all God’s creatures, with all worlds, and he sings his song with all of them.  It is of one such as this that tradition has said that whoever sings a portion of song each day is assured of having a share in the World-to-Come.

And then there is one who rises with all these songs in one ensemble, and they all join their voices.  Together they sing their songs with beauty, each one lends vitality and life to the other.  They are sounds of joy and gladness, sounds of jubilation and celebration, sounds of ecstasy and holiness.

The song of the self, the song of the people, the song of man, the song of the world, all merge in him at all times in every hour.

And this full comprehensiveness rises to become the song of holiness, the song of God, the song of Israel, in its full strength and beauty, in its full authenticity and greatness.  The name ‘Israel’ stands for shir-El, the song of God. It is a simple song, a two-fold song, a three-fold song, and four-fold song.  It is the Song of Songs of Solomon, Shlomo, it is the song of the King in Whom is wholeness.

 

 

Rav Soloveitchik

 

Questions:

  • Rav Kook spoke primarily about a the longings and expressions of a person’s inner religious soul.  How does the focus of Rav Soloveitchik’s piece differ from that?  
  • What does it mean to be part of the community of Adam/man?  Notice the following key words: destiny, charismatic load, dignity, mission, mandate.  What does each one signify?
  • What is the source of the mandate/mission that we share with all other people?
  • Notice the emphasis on community and identity.  How does this add to the discourse around these issues?
  • In the second passage (II:2), how does Rav Soloveitchik delineate what our obligations are as part of the community of man?
  • What is the benefit of a distinct faith community? What does it mean to “transcend the mundane obligations of society”?  What is our distinct mandate and message as part of a faith community?
  • Do you think the larger universalist mandate translates into a halakhic obligation?  If not, what type of obligation would it be?

3. Confrontation,” Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik

II:1

We Jews have been burdened with a twofold task: we have to cope with the problem of a double confrontation. We think of ourselves as human beings, sharing the destiny of Adam in his general encounter with nature, and as members of a covenantal community which has preserved its identity under most unfavorable conditions, confronted by another faith community. We believe we are the bearers of a double charismatic load, that of the dignity of man, and that of the sanctity of the covenantal community. In this difficult role, we are summoned by God, who revealed himself at both the level of universal creation and that of the private covenant, to undertake a double mission – the universal human and the exclusive covenantal confrontation.

Like his forefather, Jacob – whose bitter nocturnal struggle with a mysterious antagonist is so dramatically portrayed in the Bible – the Jew of old was a doubly confronted being. The emancipated modern Jew, however, has been trying, for a long time, to do away with this twofold responsibility which weighs heavily upon him. The Westernized Jew maintains that it is impossible to engage in both confrontations, the universal and the covenantal, which, in his opinion, are mutually exclusive. It is, he argues, absurd to stand shoulder to shoulder with mankind preoccupied with the cognitive-technological gesture for the welfare of all, implementing the mandate granted to us by the Creator, and to make an about-face the next instant in order to confront our comrades as a distinct and separate community. Hence, the Western Jew concludes, we have to choose between these two encounters. We are either confronted human beings or confronted Jews. A double confrontation contains an inner contradiction.

What is characteristic of these single-confrontation philosophers is their optimistic and carefree disposition. Like natural Adam of old, who saw himself as part of his environment and was never assailed by a feeling of being existentially different, they see themselves as secure and fully integrated within general society. They do not raise any questions about the reasonableness and justification of such an optimistic attitude, nor do they try to discover in the deep recesses of their personality commitments which transcend mundane obligations to society…

 

II:2

… Involvement with the rest of mankind in the cosmic confrontation does not, we must repeat, rule out the second personal confrontation of two faith communities, each aware of both what it shares with the other and what is singularly its own. In the same manner as Adam and Eve confronted and attempted to subdue a malicious scoffing nature and yet nevertheless encountered each other as two separate individuals cognizant of their incommensurability and uniqueness, so also two faith communities which coordinate their efforts when confronted by the cosmic order may face each other in the full knowledge of their distinctness and individuality.

We reject the theory of a single confrontation and instead insist upon the indispensability of the double confrontation. First, as we have mentioned previously, we, created in the image of God, are charged with responsibility for the great confrontation of man and the cosmos. We stand with civilized society shoulder to shoulder over against an order which defies us all. Second, as a charismatic faith community, we have to meet the challenge of confronting the general non-Jewish faith community. We are called upon to tell this community not only the story it already knows – that we are human beings, committed to the general welfare and progress of mankind, that we are interested in combating disease, in alleviating human suffering, in protecting man’s rights, in helping the needy, et cetera – but also what is still unknown to it, namely, our otherness as a metaphysical covenantal community.

 

 

Rav Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz

Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz of Vilna (1765-1821) was a kabbalist with a wide knowledge in many fields.  He was the author of the Torah-encyclopedia Sefer HaBris, which covers the topics of faith, halakha, mussar, kabbalah, nature, philosophy, science, and technology.  This was a highly popular sefer, reprinted 36 times, and translated into Yiddish and Ladino. It received approbations from important rabbonim, and is quoted by many poskim including Chachmas Adam, Tzitz Eliezer and Yabia Omer.  It is reported that the Chatam Sofer recommended to all his students to buy and use this sefer.

 

In the following passage, R. Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz, lays out the many different sources of our obligation to the other, regardless of whether he is Jew or Gentile.  The goal of this piece is less hashkafic per se, and more to articulate a clear sense of obligation and responsibility.

Questions:

  • What are the sources of this more universalist obligation?  
  • Where does he indicate that this is a moral obligation?  A pragmatic one?  What is the source of this moral obligation?
  • What does he mean when he speaks about nature? How is this different from a moral obligation?
  • How does he articulate a sense of identity and community that is shared by all people?
  • He makes an argument from Scripture.  Do you think his reading is the correct one according to the pshat of the verse?  What are the key words that he focuses on?
  • At the end, he argues that this is an obligation based on the Rabbis as well?  Are you convinced by his argument?  What type of obligation, if any, seems to emerge from the passages that he quotes?
  • Do you think according to him we are talking about an actual halakhic obligation?

4. Sefer HaBrit, II:13, “Love of Neighbors”, R. Pinchas Eliyahu   |   ספר הברית, “אהבת אחים,” ר’ פנחס אליהו  הורוביץ

(Kabbalist, 18th Century, Vilna)

[פרק ה’]  מעתה השכל נותן שמוטל על כל אדם חוב גמור לשמור תמיד היושר וצדק בתוך חברת מינו כדי שיתקיים הקבוץ ויהיה שוקד על שמירתם להרחיק מעול ומהזיק לאחד מהם ולהיות דורש שלומם וטובתם כל הימים למען קיום ברית החברה ועבותות קשורם בעשותו מעשים נאותים וראויים להפיק להם ומהם רצון, הרי מבואר מצד השכל שזה הוא חוב גמור על כל אדם בעלי ברית עולם כי השכל מחייב להקביל בטובה למי שקבל ממנו טובה ותועלת…

גם מדרך אחר יחוייב זה מצד השכל והוא כי רבה רעת האדם בארץ והנזיקין וההשחתות הבאים על ידם כמו מלשינות גנבות גזלות רציחות עצות רעות והשגת גבול….וכל מי שאוהב את הבריות ומטיב להם ונפש כי תקרב בני האדם כלם ימעטו עליו אלה הנזיקין…

[פרק ו]  אך לדעת אם אנו חייבים עליהם מצד הטבע אם לא, נאמר בתשובת זאת השאלה כי אם יבחון האדם בנפשו ובטבעו ימצא בעצמו נטיה וחפץ לעשות מעשים ישרים בעיני כל אדם להטיב ולהשפיע לזולתו, לחמול על דל… לרפאות החולה… לחלק מחכמתו לאחרים… להטיב לזולתו בכל מיני מיטב מכחו ומקנינו ומחכמתו וכל אשר ביכלתו:…

[פרק ז] אמנם לדעת אם אנו חייבים עליה מן הכתוב, נאמר כי פקד ה’ את עמו עליה מפורש והתורה מחייבת אותנו זאת באר היטב, כמה שכתוב ואהבת לרעך כמוך (ויקרא י”ט), ואין הכונה בו לישראל דוקא שאילו היה כן היה כתוב ואהבת לאחיך כמוך כמו שכתוב אצל רבית לא תשיך לאחיך נשך כסף (דברים כ”ג)… אבל הכונה בו לרעך שהוא אדם כמוך ועוסק בישובו של עולם כמוך וכל האומות במשמע… שהרי חז”ל לא מעטו מרעך בפסוק זה אהבת רעים מן האומות ולא דרשו בו דבר…

גם הנה מקום אתי (במאמר זה פרק י”א) לפרש בו פסוק ואהבת לרעך כמוך לפי פשוטו של מקרא… אך בא למעט ולשלול מאהבת רעים שבעה האומות שישבו בימים ההם בארץ ישראל שהיו אכזרים זה על זה ולא היה בהם אהבת חברת מין האנושי, ולא די שלא היו עוסקים בישובה של עולם אלא היו עוסקים ברצוח וגנוב ונאוף אלמנה וגר יהרוגו… כי גם בניהם ובנותיהם ישרפו באש לאלהיהם…

[פרק ח] אבל לדעת אם אנו חייבים עליה מן המקובל מחז”ל מעתיקי השמועה ותורה שבעל פה, נאמר שנמצא מפורש כן בדבריהם, והוא, רבי אומר איזוהי דרך ישרה שיבור לו האדם כל שהיא תפארת לעושיה ותפארת לו מן האדם (אבות פרק ב’), כלומר שכל מעשה ממעשי האדם צריך שיהיה מה שיודע בברור שהוא יושר וצדק והוא דבר שישמח בו לעד ולא יבוש בו לנצח כי הוא לו לכבוד ולתפארת ויהיה מרוצה וטוב בעיני כל אדם וחביב בעיניהם ומקובל לשם ולתפארת ולתהלה בכל הארץ… ובאמרו ותפארת לו מן האדם ולא אמר ותפארת לו מבני עמו כוונתו בזה כל בני אדם וכל יושבי תבל בין בני עמו ובין בני עם אחר, וככה הוא (בפרק ג’ דאבות) מה שאמר רבי עקיבא חביב האדם שנברא בצלם שכונתו במלת האדם על האומות…

ומפורש אמרו חז”ל שאין חלוק בדבר הזה אשר אנו מדברים במאמר הזה בין בני ישראל לבני עם אחר, כדגרסינן (בפרק היה קורא) מרגלא בפומיה דאביי לעולם יהא אדם מרבה שלום עם כל אדם אפילו לעכו”ם בשוק כדי שיהא אהוב למעלה ונחמד למטה ומתקבל על הבריות, אמרו עליו על ר’ יוחנן בן זכאי שלא הקדימו אדם שלום מעולם אפילו עכו”ם בשוק. ובראשית ספר חרדים (פרק ח’ בו) ז”ל, פה צפת היה הרב ר’ יוסף סראמסי רבו של הרב ר’ דוד בן זמרא שהיה משים שלום תמיד בין איש לאשתו ובין אדם לחבירו בישראל ובין הגוים עשה זה ג”כ וזכה לראות את אליהו הנביא:

הרי כי חז”ל קרבו גוים וכללו אותם באהבת רעים, ומה רבו חכמתם ואמת משנתם כי הדבר הזה הוא חוב מוטל על כל אדם להפיק רצון כל הבריות מטעם היותו אדם מובלע בין אנשים ומקבל תועלת מחברת כל בני שת… כי כל העמים תקעו כף…יעשו כלם אגודה אחת וחברה אחת ובחברתם נרפא לנו ג”כ, ועל כן כל איש מחוייב להתנהג עם כל אדם וכל משפחות האדמה בטוב וביושר ובאחוה…הרי נתבאר שמוטל החוב הזה עלינו גם מן המקובל היא תורה שבע”פ ג”כ…

Chapter 5.   Now, reason dictates that there rests on every person an absolute obligation to constantly attend to fairness and justice in the society of his species, in order that the society should survive.  And he should be diligent to uphold these principles, to distance himself from injustice and from damaging any one of them, and to constantly be seeking out their welfare and their best interests, all of his days, for the sake of maintaining the covenant (brit) of the society, and the ropes that bind them, when he does the pleasant and appropriate acts that will give them, and derive from them, favor.  Behold, it has been explained that reason dictates that this is an absolute obligation on every person, parties to the world covenant (brit), that reason dictates that he must grant goodness to one from whom he has received goodness and benefit…

Also, from another angle one is obligated based on reason – and that is, because great are the evils that humans perpetrate in this world, and the injuries and destructions that come through their hands, such as libel, robbery, theft, murder, duplicitous advice, and encroaching on property…  And anyone who loves his fellow creatures, and wants to do good to them, because we are all human, will seek to minimize these damages…

Chapter 6.  However, we must determine if we are obligated in these behaviors also based on nature, or not.  We will say in response to this question, that if a person were to inspect his own soul and nature, he would find in himself an inclination and desire to do those acts that are seen as just and fair in the eyes of all people, to do good and to give to the other, to have compassion on the poor… to heal the sick… to share his knowledge with others… to benefit the other in all manners of benefit, from his efforts, his property, and his wisdom, and in every way that is in his ability to do so…

Chapter 7.  However, we must determine if we are obligated in this matter from Scripture.  We will say, that God has commanded his nation on this matter explicitly, and the Torah obligates us in this quite explicitly, as the verse states “You shall love you neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19).  And the intent is not only to love one’s fellow Jew, for were this so it would say, “And you shall love your brother as yourself,” as it states by lending with interest, “You shall not lend your brother with interest of money” (Deut. 23)… Rather, the intent is ‘your neighbor’ who is a human being, just as you are, and involves himself in the betterment of society, just as you do, and thus all nations are included… For, behold, the Sages did not exclude from ‘your neighbor’ in this verse of loving one’s neighbor, those ‘neighbors’ among the nations, and they did not explicate anything (any limits) based on this term…

I also, in another place (chapter 11) have a way of explaining the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” according to the simple meaning of Scripture… that it is coming to exclude from love of one’s neighbor the Seven Nations that lived at that time in the Land of Israel, who were cruel to one another, and they had no love of human society.   It did not suffice that they did not involve themselves in the betterment of society, but they rather involved themselves in murder and robbery and adultery, the widow and the stranger they would murder… “For even their sons and their daughters they would burn in the fire to their gods.”…

Chapter 8. However, we must determine if we are obligated in this matter from the tradition of the Sages, the transmitters of our tradition and Oral Law.  We will say, that it is found explicitly in their words, and that is, “Rebbe (R. Yehudah HaNasi) says: What is the straight path that a person must choose?  Anything that is an honor to he who does it, and an honor to him from people.” (Chapters of the Fathers, ch. 2).  That is to say, that every action of human actions must be one which the person knows with clarity that it is fair and just, and that it is a thing that he can be happy about forever and never embarrassed about, because it will be to him an honor and a glory, and it will be desirous and good in the eyes of people, and dear to them, and it will be received for fame and glory and praise throughout the land…  And when they say, “And an honor to him from people,” and they did not say, “for his nation,” their intent was all people, all the inhabitants of the earth, whether the people of his nation or of another nation.  Similarly, it states, “Rabbi Akiva said: Dear is the human who was created in the image (of God),” (Chapters of the Fathers, ch. 3), the intent of the word ‘human,’ refers to all nations…

Our Sages have stated explicitly that there is no distinction regarding this matter under discussion between Jews and other people, as it states “A gem in the mouth of Abaye: ‘A person should always act with abundance peace towards all people, even a non-Jew in the marketplace, so that he should be beloved above and find favor below and be well received by all creatures.’ They said in the name of Rabban Yoachanan ben Zakkai that no person ever greeted him before he had greeted them, even a non-Jew in the marketplace.”  And in the beginning of the Sefer Hasidim (ch. 8), it states: “Here in Tzefat was Rabbi Yosef Sramasi the teacher of   R. David ben Zimra, who would always be making peace between husband and wife, and one person and his neighbor, among the Jewish people.  And even among the non-Jews he acted thusly.  And he merited to see Elijah the Prophet.”

Behold the Sages included the nations in the mitzvah of loving one’s neighbor.  And how great is their wisdom and how true is their teaching, for this matter is an obligation upon every person, to bring benefit to all creatures, on the basis of his being a person who is part of the world community and who receives benefit from the society of all human beings… Because all the nations have shaken hands… they have all become one society, and we have also been beneficiaries of this society.  Thus, each person is obligated to act with every person and all the families of the Earth, with goodness and fairness and with fraternity… Behold it has been made clear that this obligation is incumbent upon us also from the tradition which is the Oral Law.