Reform rabbis reinterpret Judaism as a religion of love. Christianity is about idealistic love for everyone; Judaism is about justice. The major instruction to Hebrews when they entered Canaan was to establish courts. Justice is the only word repeated in the Torah adjacently: “Justice, justice shall you follow!” The Torah puts justice above compassion, and prohibits judges from favoring the poor.

In Jewish terms, love (Leviticus 19:34) means doing no wrong (Lev19:33, Exodus 23:9). Love is passive: it doesn’t push the Jews to help others. The Torah specifies two kinds of obligatory help: small charity and helping the enemy to unburden his fallen donkey. In both cases, the idea is the same: one’s small efforts greatly help others. Tithe saves lives of the poorest; minor help to one’s enemy reconciles with him. Dissipating one’s life serving others’ needs is alien to the Torah.

Even the Do not harm commandment applies only to neighbors and friendly resident aliens. It doesn’t apply to enemies, faraway tribes, or religious deviants. Jews are only prohibited from murdering and robbing them. Groups with different values and interests often compete, and one group must necessarily harm another. Harm to others must be kept to a minimum: offenders of societal values such as sexual deviants are banished from the community, rather than executed.

Liberal rabbis hook the ignorant Jews with the quotations from Rabbis Hillel and Akiva, who called the commandment of love the greatest commandment. Hillel was talking to a Gentile who mockingly asked him to explain Judaism in a single sentence. Hillel neither explained nor qualified his dictum. Similarly, a modern politician might say that freedom is the greatest value without clarifying that the freedom of criminals must be curtailed, that one’s freedom must not infringe on others’, or that freedom shouldn’t extend to public nudity.

Akiva’s pronouncement is similarly haggadic, not halachic; rhetorical, not legal. The dictum is attributed to Akiva in the Bereshit Rabbah midrash and similar sources of folklore. Akiva, who declared Bar Kochba messiah and sent his 24,000 students to fight the Romans over the restrictions they imposed on Judaism, certainly did not advocate ubiquitous love.