What is Love?(I know you are all humming that song right now.)
How has one of the most powerful emotions known to mankind become the description for a coffee first thing in the morning or a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream late at night. Have we lost touch with the meaning of LOVE?
We often find ourselves defining emotions based off experiences that we’ve had in the past and not by their true definition. This causes us so much confusion when going through life because we never truly understand their meaning. How can we understand the complexities of the human condition? Perhaps, the only way to truly interpret these ideas is to take a look at what G-D has to say about them. After all, He is the one who created these emotions in us.
The Torah commands us to “love your neighbor like yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). At first glance, this commandment seems to be problematic. (1) How can we be commanded to express an emotion? Aren’t emotions something we aren’t in control of? (2) What does it mean to love someone like “yourself”? Is that even possible?
Nachmanides states that the perfect example of this commandment being fulfilled is in the case of a husband and wife. Do I have to love my neighbor like I love my wife? Can that be what Nachmanides is saying? There is a very powerful message here. When the Torah says,“like yourself”, it is teaching us that the definition of love is understanding that you and your neighbor are one and the same. Love is recognizing that we are all from the same source, this is why Nachmanides uses a married couple as the example.
The Talmud tells us (Berachot) that G-D chose to make Adam and Eve, and all married couples after them, from the same soul. Meaning, every marriage is essentially merging two halves of the same whole. If only we viewed our connection with our fellow Jew the same way we viewed our obvious soul connection with our spouse, after all we all share some part of the same whole. When we begin to truly view our relationship with our fellow Jew this way, then we would be capable of true love. The Torah is constantly teaching us how to live our lives in a healthier manner. If we understand the meanings of our emotions, than we can begin to take control.
May we be able to look beyond our personal differences and be able to look for all that connects us as a people and with the help of G-D come together as one.
Rabbi Yisrael Abisror
High School Judaic Studies Teacher