Sunday, February 21, 2016

We bring heaven down to earth- can we bring ourselves up to Heaven?

Shabbat Teztaveh—We bring heaven down to earth- can we bring ourselves up to Heaven?
(Inspired by Space shuttle Challenger 1986)Feb 20 2016 (20 years, one month later)

Those of you were here last week recalled that I opened our session on the introduction to the Shacharit with the discovery that Einstein was right. It only took science 100 years to prove it, which, from the point of view of history , is really very soon.
I used that as a hook to bring in Einstein’s view of God, which was not very traditionally Jewish, but certainly Jewish in an extended sense of the abstract God of Maimonides. His best line was probably,” God does not play dice with the universe.” He had to retract it, because the God of physics does play dice, but that is a different discussion. He did sense though: The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. In that sense, he said, he was “ deeply religious.”
In any event, the discovery of waves of gravitation reinforce an ancient sensibility, that the universe is one magnificent song of praise of God,  reflected in the Psalms and in the opening of our Shacharit service, with El Adon. 
El Adon, with its imagery of stars, sun and moon, and forces and power, mercy and lovingkindness, reflects an ancient drive to see the wonders of God in heaven, the Merkabah, the Divine Chariot.
Now, our Torah reading, Tetsaveh, and the rest of the Book of Exodus, is dedicated to just the opposite theme: This is a reverse of the premise of the entire rest of the book of Exodus, which is dedicated to bringing the heavens down to earth, in the form of the Mishkan, ( The entity of presence, sh-kh-n)the Tabernacle. This would seem to make sense to us: let’s have a flavor of God down here on earth, with us mere mortals, V’shachanti betocham, I will live in their midst, or, even more stirringly, as we say in the reading for Yom Kippur ”,that dwells in the midst of their impurities ( Lev 16:16)”.Hence, our term, Shekhinah, for the Presence of God everywhere.
But what about going the other way, about us going up! Moses goes up Sinai; Elijah goes up in a chariot of fire. Do we go up to the Heavens in any way?
We know that we have been flirting with this for over half a century. I still recall sitting in my school seat while the PA system broadcast the report of the first flight, by Allen Shepard, a few minutes of up and down, but a flight nevertheless, and then, not long afterwards, the first footsteps on the moon. It has also been 20 years, plus a month, to the great disaster of the Space shuttle Challenger, which exploded in mid-flight and some 13 years since the disaster of the space shuttle Columbus.( In both cases, seriously bad decisions led to the disasters, preventable decisions, that date back, if we follow the Midrash, to the one great flaw of the Tower of Babel.)
. As in the Greek legend of Icarus, who dared to fly above the bounds of the earth, such events serve to raise the question: may we move beyond the bounds of our planet ? Are we not, rather, to be tied to this earth on which we were created?
The Greeks, in their myth, said " No". To aspire too high was to court disaster, the punishment for any attempt to reach beyond the physical limitations of mere mortals, the sin of hubris.
What does the Torah say? What have Jewish scholars and visionaries to offer us, visionaries who lived thousands of years before the Wright brothers left the solid ground beneath them?
We didn’t have physical space flights, but we did have visions of trips to the heavens. We Jews, you know, do a lot of imagining. So we have our own history of space flight, but a flight conducted from within the heart and mind, not from the launch pad.
Our ancient sages were drawn, in their way, to penetrate the mysteries of the universe. Their way was meditative, yet in their belief, it was as powerful as or more powerful than the Saturn booster rockets.
They were also aware of the dangers. Together with Rabbi Akiba, it was said that three other Sages ascended to heaven. Here is one such version (Talmud Masechet Hagiga 14b)
           Our Rabbis taught: Four men entered the ‘Garden’, namely, Ben ‘Azzai and Ben Zoma, Aher, and R. Akiba. R. Akiba said to them: When ye arrive at the stones of pure marble, say not, “Water, water!” For it is said: He that speaks falsehood shall not be established before mine eyes. Ben ‘Azzai cast a look and died. Of him Scripture says: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ben Zoma looked and became demented. Of him Scripture says: Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. Acher mutilated the shoots. R. Akiba departed unhurt.
 ת"ר ארבעה נכנסו בפרדס ואלו הן בן עזאי ובן זומא אחר ורבי עקיבא אמר להם ר"ע כשאתם מגיעין אצל אבני שיש טהור אל תאמרו מים מים משום שנאמר (תהילים קא) דובר שקרים לא יכון לנגד עיני בן עזאי הציץ ומת עליו הכתוב אומר (תהילים קטז) יקר בעיני ה' המותה לחסידיו בן זומא הציץ ונפגע ועליו הכתוב אומר (משלי כה) דבש מצאת אכול דייך פן תשבענו והקאתו אחר קיצץ בנטיעות רבי עקיבא יצא בשלום 
What one earth does this mean?
Had we lived in the second and third century , we would have known these descriptions of the voyage to the seven heavens. These were so well known that a similar space travel is mentioned also by Paul a century earlier to his audience.
So first, what is this Garden? The Hebrew word, originally Persian, is Pardes, which has entered the English language as “Paradise”. In other words, this is a trip up to the Heavens done through meditation. It is intended as a warning to amateurs to leave this up only to the greatest of the greatest, as those who are merely great become damaged goods.
They are warned not to say” water water” when they see shining marble plates. The understanding is that the vision is overwhelming and the visionary fails at that moment to realize the truth. Hence, Ben Azai, the first one,” hetzit vamet”; he peeked in and dropped dead.
Ben Zoma peeked and “ nifga”, was struck insane. 
“ Acher”, the “Other One”, refers to Elisha Ben Abuya, the great teacher of his day.
” Kitzetz banetiyot”, he cut down that which was planted. If Paradise comes from the word for a garden, then this metaphor is well placed—he uprooted the garden. He abandoned Judaism, abandoned the Torah, visited a prostitute and violated the Shabbat in her presence, at which she gave him the nickname,” Acher”-the one who is different, very different from the Sage that he had been.
These are our versions of the Space shuttle disasters, our Icarus falling from the sky.
But. of Rabbi Akiba, the Sage who is their guide to Pardes, it is said ,”he went up in peace and returned in peace ( variant text).”
So what is it that Rabbi Akiba envisioned? Ancient manuscripts attribute the first version of Alenu as a song of praise that he uttered when he was up on high. And what was it that he saw?
“ He ( God) invited Man to his established place:
To ascend on high, to descend below
To drive on wheels of the Divine Chariot
To explore the world, to walk on dry ground
To contemplate the splendor. . .
To behold what is below
To know the meaning of the living, and to see the vision of the dead
To walk in rivers of fire and to know the lightning.( Lieberman in Gershom Scholem,  Merkabah Mysiticsm p 77,  Hekhalot text)
If this is not a description of a flight into Space- a flight of fantasy, a flight of imagination, whatever you may call it, then how else to describe this. In contemporary parlance, “ an out of body experience.”
These texts never were part of our standard canon. They were kept out of our Talmudim and our Midrashim, for sure ( except for very esoteric quotes in Talmud Hagigah). The story of the four who entered Paradise was a warning to all: Three out of four of the greatest failed! But it is still testimony to the human need to know that which is beyond comprehension. The quest for a spiritual; vision never vanished. Medieval mystics entered prophetic trances; the Baal Shem Tov beheld such heavenly visions. The late Rabbi Zalman Schachter tripped on acid with Timothy Leary ( not something I recommend to anyone).
In the second and third century, it was a trip into a spiritual space. In our times, it is a trip into physical space, whether by rocket flight, or by gigantic electronic installations trying to fathom what is above, what is below, ”To walk in Rivers of Fire and to Know the lightning."
This our very understandable drive :to penetrate the mysteries of the universe, be it beyond the bounds of the planet earth or to delve down into the miniscule world of neutron, proton, pion, anti-matter and the like.
However, should we not, as people of religion, ponder what happened to the mythical Icarus who dared to fly to high in the sky?
That is not a Jewish question. It is a pagan question. 
When the ancient Greeks told the tale of the origin of fire, they saw the gods as haters of humanity. Only one Divine being, Prometheus, had pity on humanity and gave the first man the secret of fire. For this sin, Prometheus was bound and tortured, for all eternity.
God never prohibited the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; He prohibited eating of the fruit of knowledge of Good and Evil. He prohibited the desire for evil, for moral evil, that the tree represents. 
Quite the opposite: In Jewish belief, God is the inspiration for human inquiry and knowledge, Chonen HaDaat..
So the Jewish story of fire is the exact reverse.
It was, our sages said, a gift from God, an act of compassion for the human being, to conquer the darkness and conquer fear. 
When a Jew prays to God, he does not ask for the ability to believe. Nowhere are we asked to believe blindly. We give praise to God, instead, every day, for gift of wisdom, and God is described as the one who hanenu meitcha  deah, binah v haskel- give us of your knowledge, understanding an discernment.
Knowledge is never forbidden. It is only the purpose for that knowledge that is questioned.
So, while our Torah portion deals with bringing a bit of heaven down to earth, we also keep in mind, that we ourselves want to be able to bring something of ourselves up into the Heavens, whether in our mediations and imaginings, or through our science and exploration. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mishpatim - Putting Law into Action

Mishpatim - Putting Law into Action
Last week, I spoke of what are the key principals of the Torah and boiled it all down to Hillel’s famous rule of Judaism on one foot-- Don’t do to your fellow what you don’t want done to yourself. Then, I exploded it all by adding Hillel’s codicil: the rest is commentary-- Go and study.

Too often, we think of Judaism as defined by our denominations:  with a beard-- without a beard, with a kippah-- without a kippah, more Hebrew--less Hebrew, and so on.  But that is not the core.
It is also not a set of platitudes, which is what we often mistake for Judaism.
Look at the Talmud and see that the largest section is devoted to “ Nezikin”- damages. Civil and criminal courts and procedures, definitions of finances and ownership, property rights, and so on. The Mishneh Torah as well as the Shulkhan Arukh  consist to a large part of everyday laws dealing with individual and group rights and obligations. Up until the modern era, we Jews had our own governments and court systems, which the ruling king, duke or Caliph would allow us. It is only with modernity, and the idea of the citizenship of the Jew as a member of another nation, that our legal system dwindled.
I had the privilege, when I lived in Israel in the 1980’s, to help edit and English language translation for the Deputy Attorney of Israel, Prof. Nahum Rakover. His special function was to find precedent in Jewish law for issues facing a modern Jewish society, especially for a concept of “ Mishpat Ivri”, Hebrew Jurisprudence, a secular concept, rather than “Halakhah”.
Why would it be a dilemma? In 1948, Israel was established as a country, and immediately, the issue arose—what law books do you use? The Yishuv had been a British protectorate, so there were British laws on the books, but before that, it had been a Turkish province, so those laws were still on the book. For example, till today, property to title is registered in the “ Tabu”, a Turkish word for land registry. Land is measured in “Dunam”, another Turkish term for a thousand acres, based on a Turkish measure of how much land a man could plow in one day. Certainly the Knesset is structured on the British parliament including acrimonious debates). The Knesset therefore decided that, as new situation would arise that called for new laws, the attorney general’s office would look for precedent in Jewish jurisprudence.

The work I helped with was a textbook for Israeli attorneys, who had no clue or training in Jewish law, as to how Jewish law developed and could be applied to real life situations. The textbook example Prof . Rakover used was taken directly from this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim., Ex 22. The category of law is usually termed “bailment” or the law of bailees, or, for simpler English, caretakers.
What happens when you entrust your neighbor with your property to be taken care of, as a favor, not for pay and it is damaged or stolen? For example, “ Can I park my Ferrari in your driveway while I am on vacation?”
"If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man's house . . ."If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor's property.  "For every breach of trust. . . he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.”
This is termed a “ Shomer Hinam”, “a free guard”. In other words, even if you do your friend a favor, not for pay, you still have a liability if you misused or misappropriated the property. However, you have a limit to your obligation to protect and guard. After all, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
What if the guard is paid for the service, a “Shomer Sakhir”? For example, you have placed your pure-breed prize winning Yorkie in a “Dog Hotel”.
"If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, an oath before the LORD shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor's property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution.  "
But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner.… "If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces.”
The example of animals is used precisely, because there is an effort involved in looking after them and it would be expected that the guard is paid for it. For that reason, as a guard, he is responsible to protect it from thieves, but he is not liable for unpreventable events, such as the animal dropping dead or tripping and falling on its own. If it has been torn by a predator, he needs to bring proof, in other words, whatever is left of the carcass, and he is free of liability.
What about the neighbor who comes to borrow the proverbial cup of sugar, “I will return it tomorrow, with the sugar”, the “ Shoel”.
"If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution.  "If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.
In other words, if you borrow something from neighbor, you have full liability for whatever happens to it, and you suffer the loss, just as if it were your own property. You have to return the cup of sugar, with the sugar ( or at least, refill the cup).
The only limitation in this situation is that as long as the owner is there at the same time, the owner still has responsibility, since it is under his watch at that time.
But, the last line deals with renter, who pays for the use,” it came for its hire”. You go to Avis or Hertz and rent a sports car.  In other words, the cost of the rent includes in it coverage for damages, or we could call it, the price of doing business, or risk.
When  I was a young student, just starting out, my first introduction to the Talmud was just on this set of laws. Chapter 3 of Baba Metzia, “Hamafkid Etzel Chavero”- One who deposits a property with his friend
It then goes on to determine what happens when later on the thief is caught- to whom does the thief now pay, and how much? The rest of the Talmud text goes on and on to determine where and what is applicable and what not.
To make a long story short, this  is one of the classic examples in which the Knesset  adopted laws on deposits of property, rentals,  storage for pay and so forth designed for a modern society.
Look at some of the cases we have in this portion.
There is a unusual incident, presumably unlikely, of two men fighting when a pregnant woman is caught in the melee: Ch 21:22
"If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.  "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,…
What is the Hebrew for “gives birth prematurely”? What does “no injury” mean? What does “further injury” mean? How does it relate to “ eye for eye”.
If we go to the first translation of the Bible, the Greek, the Septuagint, we read:” she gives birth prematurely, but the baby comes out alive, the one who strikes her must pay some monetary compensation for the pain. But if the baby dies, then it is life for life.” This common English translation above has picked up the meaning form the Greek. In other words, in the Greek translation, causing a miscarriage, an abortion, is “ life for life”, abortion is murder. Hence, this is one of the Catholic Church’s foundations for opposition to abortion, in any and all cases.
But the Hebrew text, as we have it, and as the Rabbis read it, is the opposite. If the baby is “ miscarried”, but the woman is unharmed, then the attacker pays damages for injury to the woman. But if there is “ason”, a disaster, in other words, the woman dies, then it is life for life. Killing of a fetus is in itself not murder, but damage, whereas killing the mother clearly is murder.
Long and short, from this one sentence, and its link to “eye for an eye”, we get the fine distinction between historic Jewish practice and Catholic practice. Jews were notorious in the ancient world for refusing to abandon or kill infants that were born with defects; every baby born was precious, to the extent that the ancient Romans thought we were barbarians, endangering society by preserving individuals incapable of defending the state. Nevertheless, we always recognized the critical distinction between the potential, before birth, and actual, after birth. A mother’s life, not only her physical life, but her emotional life and mental stability could be legitimate grounds for an abortion.
( Rabbinic interpretations of emotional stress were very broad).
Finally, is Jewish law something abstract, something that impacted and was restricted to only us Jews? Is it only vague platitudes that generally infused European civilization through Christianity and into the Moslem world through the Judaic roots of Islam?
If any of you have ever taken out a mortgage to buy a house, you can think again.
American law is a direct heir to English law. Where do we fit in?
When William the Conqueror invaded England, he brought his advisors with him, his Jews. The exchequer had a special Jewish exchequer. The principles of later English economy were founded by these Jewish advisors.
“ Several elements of historical Jewish legal practice have been integrated into the English legal system. Notable among these is the written credit agreement—shetar, or starr, as it appears in English documents. The basis of the shetar, or "Jewish Gage," was a lien on all property (including realty) that has been traced as a source of the modern mortgage. Under Jewish law, the shetar , permitted a creditor to proceed against all the goods and land of the defaulting debtor. Both "movable and immovable" property were subject to distraint. ( Georgetown law Journal, The Shtar in English Law.”)
In England, the seat of the Royal Court for many years was a building called the “ Star Chamber”. It is suggested that the word star was not given for its stars on the ceiling, but for its having at one time been the house in which financial documents were stored. The English of the time of the Norman rulers used the word “ Starr” for the documents, from the Hebrew “ Shtar”, contract.
Don’t get mad at the bank for making you pay your mortgage. Without a sound system of mortgages, the economy grinds to a halt and we go back to subsistence hunting and foraging. Just think of 2008 ( Big Short) when the mortgage system worldwide had a hiccup!
Next time you pay your mortgage statement, just think of it as one example in which Torah laws still impacts our world today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

How Many Commandments

How Many Commandments   Jan 29 2016  Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim

This Weds, International Holocaust Memorial Day, was observed by the United Nations on Jan 27. The date was chosen to recall the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was one of the “homes” of our own Joe Alexander, as well as of the grandfather of last week’s Bar Mitzvah.

I personally greatly appreciate the appearance of President Obama at the Israeli Embassy to mark that date and make a stirring statement,” We are all Jews.’ It was very fitting, because on the same day, the Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau, gave a statement on Holocaust day without a single mention of anti-Semitism or Jews! It was fitting because the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, used the date to justify why Palestinians are stabbing Jews—it is an outcome of frustration for living under oppression. I get it. Jews could live under oppression for nearly two thousand years, without stabbing their oppressors, but that’s for Jews, not for Arabs. OK. The President’s visit was also an important rebuff to those on the intolerant left and right, both the Ayatollah Khamanei of Iran on one end and our own brilliant American leftist activists who denounce the Holocaust as something that “ whites did to whites”.

Last weekend, I was viewing an older movie, about Hannah Arendt, who analyzed Adolf Eichmann as ‘the banality of evil”;a mere clerk, as a cog in the machine of evil, was drawn into the heart of evil. I don’t want to go into the issue here, but to say, that it led to a good debate between a friend and me on the topic of murder and execution. It’s a simple topic, very commonly heard, which goes right to our Torah reading, Yitro, and the Aseret Hadibrot, the Ten Commandments.

--“Thou shalt not kill.”  Can the State, the courts, ever execute someone, since this in turn violates “ Thou Shalt not Kill?”

--Oh, but it doesn’t say “ Kill.” I reply, It says “murder”.

---But murder and killing are the same. How can you decided that there is some rule greater than what is written in the Ten Commandments.

--Two answers:

First- a word has to be defined. The  Ten Commandments” uses “ Tirzakh”, murder, not ”taharog”, kill. But how can we determine what the word means?
You have to go outside the text. But how far outside?

A midrash? Some Rabbi?  We often do so for a Drash, but the truth is, the Rabbis try not to go outside of the text. The answer has to be somewhere else in the text.

So you ask,  where do you look? You start as closely as possible.  The next portion,Mishpatim.  It gives us clear examples of what is murder. Whoever strikes another and kills him shall in turn be killed. . .whoever kills his slave, and the slave dies, the slave shall be avenged and so forth. But what if the death is unintended. Say  there is aggravated assault, for example, followed by death of the victim several days later? That’s not murder, as it is not directly proven that the assault led to the death. The death may have come from other causes. Yet later in the Torah, we are told that there has to be a known history of hatred by the murderer. “ s’nao mitmol shilshom”—he hated him “ the day before yesterday”.

In short, the very Torah in which we have the Ten Commandments gives us the terms whereby we can understand them.

There is the second answer: just ‘cause it says Ten Commandments, it ain’t necessarily so, as the famous song goes.

We love to talk of Ten Commandments, but you know the Torah doesn’t know of it. It knows only of “Aseret Hadibrot”. Ten Declarations  , which serve as the preamble, introducing some general principles, which require, by their nature, explanation.

 In fact, it is very rare that in the Torah, we find explicit declarations of law. Most of it is “Casuistic law”, from “case”. “If this, then that.” Most of Rabbinic reasoning is looking at the multiple “ ifs” and “thens”, and deriving from that , general principles that in turn generate more “if, then”.

So why so much emphasis on “ Ten Commandments”. After all,they are written by the finger of God and placed in the Ark. It would seem that certainly it was seen as a great foundation of Judaism. When the early Christians removed the observance of the Miztvoth, they kept the Ten Commandments.You know what we Jews do? If the Christians keep only the Ten Commandments, then we are going to emphasize all the rest. It’s only ten out of a total package deal.  It’s like buying a car—you can’t buy just the engine-you need to buy the drive train, the gears, the steering, the seats, the frame. We got the whole car, and it is a Rolls Royce!

So know we know how many we have: 613.

Right? Wrong;

Here is the debate in the Talmud:
How many Commandments are there? (Talmud Masekhet Makkoth 23b- 24 a)
R. Simlai : Six hundred and thirteen precepts were communicated to Moses, three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts, corresponding to the number of solar days [in the year], and two hundred and forty-eight positive precepts, corresponding to the number of the members of man's body.

Lovely commentary, to show that we observe the commandments with all our body and all year long.

Good- so ,as I said, 613. Then, add the extras bells and whistles in the Talmud, Responsa, the codes of the Rambam and the the Shulkhan Arukh and later authorities—easily, a few thousands of thousands, occupying an entire library.

But, the Talmudic debate continues:

David came and reduced them to eleven [principles], as it is written, A Psalm of David” Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy mountain? .

OK, not ten , but eleven. Wait, The debate is not finished.
Isaiah came and reduced them to six [principles], as it is written, [i] He that walketh righteously, and [ii] speaketh uprightly. ( Isa. XXXIII, 15-16)
So we are down to six. No, not good enough.
Micah came and reduced them to three [principles], as it is written, It hath been told  thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of thee: [i] only to do justly, and [ii] to love mercy and [iii] to walk humbly before thy God. (Micah VI, 8.)  ‘To do justly,’ that is, maintaining justice; and to love mercy,’ that is, rendering every kind office; ‘and walking humbly before thy God,’ that is, walking in funeral and bridal processions.
OK, so only three things. But wait:
Again came Isaiah and reduced them to two [principles], as it is said, Thus saith the Lord,[i] Keep ye justice and [ii] do righteousness [etc.]. ( Isa. LVI, 1).
Two! This is like Abraham negotiating with God as Sodom! How far down can we negotiate?
Amos came and reduced them to one [principle], as it is said, For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me and live. (Amos V, 4).
One? Only one. Are we now agreed? No, not at all. Your choice is too general!
 To this R. Nahman b. Isaac demurred, saying: [Might it not be taken as,] Seek Me by observing the whole Torah and live? — But it is Habakuk who came and based them all on one [principle], as it is said, But the righteous shall live by his faith.(Hab. II, 4.)

It’s a funny quote, because it is the same quote that Martin Luther used to define the underlying principal of Christianity. The righteous shall live by faith. The difference is that the Talmud is reading the Hebrew understanding of Tsadik and Emunah, and Luther is reading the Greek or Latin translations and concepts. Different languages, different meanings.

So, is this the final one?

No. Along comes Rabbi Akiba, in another source:

 Rabbi Akiba argued that the great principal of the Torah is “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). This is wonderful, and this too, we share with Christianity—Jesus states as much. The great principal is  the Ve’ahavta of the Shama and the  Ve ahavta  of love of neighbor.
The entire Torah is built upon the idea of Immmanuel Kant. The categorical imperative. That we must apply to all others what we would apply to ourselves in all our dealings. Very abstract, very secular.

Then comes Rabbi Akiba’s  student, Ben Azzai . Of course we must differ!
Ben Azzai said: "'This is the record of Adam's line. [-When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God . . . ] (Gen. 5:1)'-this is a great principle of the Torah."

What’s wrong with “Love your neighbor as yourself.”?  Because maybe I hate myself! So, he continues.“You must not say: ‘Since I have been put to shame, let my neighbor also be put to shame, for if you do so, know that you are shaming someone who is made in the likeness of God.’”(Sifra on Kedoshim, in reverse order in Bereshit Rabbah)

In other words, a morality based on our self as the source of all values now depends on how we see ourselves. Sure, if we are loving and loved, we are happy to share the love. But what if we are miserable, angry, hurt, resentful, we have been dissed. Then, how else shall we treat our neighbor as ourselves? The same way.

No, our foundation of morality is not a universal mutual exchange. It is a recognized universal source of sanctity of each of us. Perhaps I am miserable and angry; nevertheless, I am in God’s image-and so is my neighbor. Time to shape up!

Is this the final say? No
Hillel has it:

Teach me all of Torah while I stand of one foot. Shammai chases away the petitioner. Hillel answers:
Dsani lach, lechavrech lo taavid- Don’t do to the other what you don’t want done to yourself. It’s the famous Golden rule, and hereto, something we share with Christians. The Christian sources use “ Do unto others”, and there are debates as to which version  is the more noble. They are probably, though, in their origins, one and the same, much older than either .Now we have our final answer- the Golden rule—all the Torah is really the Golden Rule.

Not so fast. Did you think a Jewish lesson could stop so easily.

Hillel continues:v haidach perusha-zil gmir

Now, the rest of the Torah is the commentary to this. Go, and study! (Shabbat 31 a)

The final answer is that there is not one, not ten, not 613 , there are endless commandments and endless commentaries, as many as there are people alive, now and in the past. You do the math for that.The rest is commentary, go study.