you shall love your neighbor as yourself 

ואהבת לﬧﬠך כמוך -v'ahavta l'reakha camokha -

you shall love your neighbor - he is like you.

The Hebrew word ahava, which became the Greek Agape ,

is translated as Love.

כ מ ו ך - camokha – like you,

is the literal meaning of the Hebrew phrase,

conventionally ranslated as  …  as yourself




Camokha and Categorical imperative


The Commandment Love your neighbor and

the difference to the Golden Rule


The Golden Rule is defined as the obligation to treat one's fellow human beings as one wishes to be treated by them.

The rule is found in the ethical teachings of many cultures and religions.

In the Bible it appears in the Book of Tobit. Here, Tobit admonishes his son Tobijah before embarking on a journey: Do to no one what you yourself hate ...Tob.4: 15


Also, in the Gospels the Rule is mentioned a few times, there actively formulated: 

So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, it is said in Matthew 7:12.


The validity of the equation seems immediately obvious. The philosopher Origen regarded it as a natural, God-given commandment, accessible to every human being.


The most common form of the golden rule is: What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.

Here, too, the instruction is formulated negatively, whereas in Matthew 7:12 it is said that one should do good to the other, just as one would wishes it for oneself.


Theoreticians of the modern market economy see this as the basic principle of self-regulation of the market and the economic process.

The mechanical inevitability of the assumed self-regulation formed the basis of political and economic science in the run-up to the industrial age.


Adam Smith had stated that egoism was the engine of social interaction. 

Accordingly, Immanuel Kant proclaimed the complete detachment of the social process from the mutual benevolence of individuals and declared rational selfishness to be the very motive of community building:

The problem of the establishment of the state, as hard as it sounds, even for a people of devils (if they only have reason), is solvable and so reads: 'An amount of rational beings who demand general laws for their preservation, but each of whom is inclined in secret to exclude themselves from it, to order and establish in their constitution in such a way that, even though they are against each other in their private attitudes, they nevertheless hold each other back in such a way that in their public conduct the success is the same as if they had no such evil attitudes. Perpetual peace


In his political doctrine, Thomas Hobbes, who one and a half centuries before had declared, that a man is a wolf to man, he comes to the view that only one absolute authority, recognized by all, can guarantee social peace: The Leviathan.


With Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith a seemingly mechanical self-regulation is supposed to guarantee the order.

The phrase of the devils, whose evil attitudes become the motive of the establishment of the state, articulated a fundamental ideological pre-condition of the dawning industrial age.

However, this is already hinted at by Hobbes, who calls the state the great machine.


A short form of the negative formulation can be found in the ethical maxim of the Google Group: Do not be evil. 


This form can already be found in the rhyme of the German humorist Wilhelm Busch: Das Gute, dieser Satz steht fest, ist stets das Böse, das man lässt – which approximately translates as: The good, this sentence fits, is always the evil, that one omits. from: Die fromme Helene

In the two biblical quotations relating to the Golden Rule from the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of Matthew it can be noticed that they refer to the behavior of the individual towards the people. Consequently, it is about the behavior towards the community.

The instruction to charity, on the other hand, refers to the individual: Love your neighbor as yourself.


This is the conventional translation, which seems to correspond to the reflective pragmatism of the Golden Rule, to treat one's neighbor well because one would like to be treated well oneself.

But the wording and also the background of the sentence are different than in the case of the reminders in which the Golden Rule is embedded.


The instruction to charity in the gospel is preceded by a question. A scribe addresses Jesus and asks him about the essence of the Torah: Master, what is the greatest commandment in the law?

Jesus mentions two instructions from the Torah as equally important: the love of God and the love of one's fellowman.

"Love the Eternal your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind". Deuteronomy 6: 5

That's the first and biggest bid. But another is like him: "Thou shall love your neighbor as yourself." Lev. 19:18  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. Mathew. 22, 36-40


Jesus equates the relationship to God with the relationship to fellow human beings.

A translation based on the Golden Rule -  ... as yourself – does, in its reflective sense, not really do justice to this relation.


On the basis of comparisons with other corresponding passages the Hebraist Naphtali Herz Wessely proposes a more meaningful translation of the phrase: כ מ ו ך - camokhalove your neighbor - he is like you.

Wessely explains: The reason for the commandment "Thou shall love your neighbor" is: For he is like you, he is similar to you, is equal to you; for he too was created in the image of God, and thus he is a human like you. And this includes all the children of men, for they were all made in the image of God.


Thus, the statement goes beyond the reflective nature of conventional translation and provides an essential instruction to be in relationship. Namely, to recognize the other as a person like you

In the German translation of Buber and Rosenzweig, this content is made clear by the specific inclusion of the following tetragram in the statement:

Halte lieb deinen Genossen. Dir gleich. ICH BIN‘s. (Tetragramm) - Love your comrade. Like you. followed by the Tetragramm as: I AM it. ( or It is me) - English translation by the author

They translated camokha to German as Dir gleich- like you.


Buber explains: Das vierte Wort des ersten Satzes … ist keineswegs zu verstehen: »Wie dich selbst«, sondern »dir gleich«, »als dir gleich - The fourth word of the first sentence ... is by no means to be understood as: "Like yourself", but "like you", "as equal to you" Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzehnten II: 27. 1. 1937 to Hans Kosma, English translation by the author


The content is further clarified by the specific inclusion of the following tetragram in the statement. The tetragram, transferred as I AM it, is understood by Martin Buber in the sense of the principle of identity and relationship as the basic word of the person, as the I-Thou.


The Judeo-Christian directive to charity is different from the Golden Rule. It does not represent a maxim of action.

It is neither a code of social behavioral economics nor a practicable rule. It does not refer to a behavior but to a beingness. A Being-in-relationship. The recognition of the other, independent of one's own needs.

Kant's categorical imperative is considered to be the philosophically stringent version of the Golden Rule: 

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law  Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals


In its possible consequence Kant’s imperative actually goes further.

Kant generalized the demand to treat the other as one would like to be treated oneself, to a collective norm: Everyone should always act in such a way that the maxim of their will can count as a moral stipulation for all others - as a principle of general legislation.

The Golden Rule, taken by itself, without the commandment of charity, can be followed without affection, only moved by the purely socio-economic reasons of an anticipatory egoism.

The categorical imperative, however, goes beyond this and excludes even the motive of affection for the other - in favor of the duty that is directed at the collective

Consequently, with Kant acting out of duty appears to be the highest virtue, while the motive of love is not seen as virtue.

To that Schiller wrote the mocking verse: I like to serve the friends, but unfortunately, I do it with inclination, and so it often rankles me that I'm not virtuous. Schiller, Xenie, scruple of conscience.




- Nicolai Hartmann, born on 19 February 1882, with a position of sun at the beginning of Pisces, characterized the neutralization of the individual by the collective, that Kant's ethics contains. He called Kant's Categorical Imperative something that man, as a personality, cannot want in principle. Rather, he must at the same time want something beyond his general validity to have something of his own in his behavior, which no other should or may do in his place. If he renounces this, he is a mere number in the crowd, replaceable by every other; his personal existence is in vain, meaningless. N. Hartmann, Ethics.


To want … something of his own in his behavior is a contradiction that already implies the neutralization.


- The remark lacks clarity. It cannot be a question of wanting that beyond all general validity something of one’s own should be in one’s behavior. That would be constructed.

And defining it by using a comparison namely, to want... to have something of his own in his behavior, which no other should or may do in his place, articulates only another, reactive form of an external determinism.


- The own is beyond behavior. Since everyone is an own by himself, or at least created as an own, it can only be a matter of allowing one's own identity and, consequently, one's own behavior.

Man does not have to want an own, his existence is already an own, otherwise he would not exist. It can only emerge by let it be.

Being means identity, another beingness is unthinkable.




Thomas Hobbes, born April 5 in the sign Aries, Immanuel Kant, in the sign Taurus on April 22, and Adam Smith, in the sign Gemini on June 5, articulate the concept of collective, in which the community becomes an end in itself. Aries, Taurus and Gemini are the three phases of the first quadrant of the zodiac, the causa materialis, realm of Leviathan. 

Here, the individual is viewed only as a function of the collective and will be used up by it.

The destiny of the individual becomes a set of rules. Wolfgang Döbereiner


Nicolai Hartmann, born February 19 in the sign of Pisces, Martin Buber, Aquarius on February 8, and Franz Rosenzweig, Capricorn on December 25, are concerned with the freedom of the individual and recognizing Heaven in the fellow human being. They are representatives of the three phases of the fourth quadrant of the zodiac, the Causa finalis, which appears in the Revelation of John as the one of the four angels with a human face.







(C) Herbert Weiler