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Baseless Love

July 15, 2013 – 4:20 pm6 Comments

By David Trakhtman

This is an edited version of a three part series.

love pill2How to make love?

Have I got your attention? Good!

No. It’s not about what you most probably have in mind (for that, refer to the Kama Sutra ). It’s about generating genuine love towards another human being, be it a man or a woman. And I couldn’t think of a better time to write about it than during the period when we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple as a result of our baseless hatred towards each other.

So how do we love ? Most importantly, why don’t we love enough ?

Truth be told, I never felt comfortable rationalising or explaining a feeling, especially such a lofty one. Emotion is spontaneous, ardent & warm. Grasping & conceptualizing an emotion with the cold & analytical mind is like pouring water on the flame.

So, when it comes to love, why would anyone want to extinguish this life-infusing emotion with the ice-cold waters of intellect ? Why kill the feeling by over-analyzing it?

Love, however, as a pure emotion actually needs to take root within the intellect.

For example. You see the orange in the greengrocer. You know from your previous experience that it’s delicious. So, you begin to crave it, in your heart; however, your brain is integral to finding a way to get that orange.

In a sense, technically speaking, it is the same when it comes to love between two human beings. For instance. A man sees a woman and (given his heterosexual predisposition) desires her. This desire is not real love but a basic infatuation, but this plants a seed in his heart to want to know her & learn more about her. Profound love can not exist without profound knowledge. This is why it says in the first book of the Bible (Genesis): “and Adam got to know Eve.”, which is indicative of a strong love that he had for her.

But we can not love everyone equally. We don’t have to love everyone equally. Even if we wanted to generate & express this love – we will not be understood, and are likely to end up either in a police cell or a mental institution.

Imagine a lady behind a counter in the shop or a plumber you call for an odd job. They are certainly humans, who deserve to be loved. But, aside from pleasant demeanor & basic politeness, no further emotional involvement is expected on your behalf.

However, I like to think of love as an endless & boundless ocean. As long as we’re alive, we will not run out of air & blood. As long as we’re alive, we will not run out of love. The secret lies in discovering it & bringing it to the surface. And, once we discover it, we can then distribute it to each person we meet accordingly – and of course, appropriately.

But in order to generate love for another being, we first need to generate love towards ourselves. “Love your fellow as yourself” indicates that you can not love your fellow unless you love yourself.  You can not give what you don’t have. You can not give love unless you feel loved. This doesn’t mean that in order to generate love towards another being, he/she must love you first.
It means that we need to recognize that we’re worthy of being loved ourselves. This recognition should not depend on others. Chances are, you’ve thought good, you’ve spoken good (don’t ever underestimate the value of a good thought or a good word), and you’ve done good. You might not be perfect (who is?), but you know, generally, you’re a good human being. And if you suspect you might not be, go do a good deed (and this can also mean saying a good word to someone). Do it, even if you don’t feel like it.

Anyways, this recognition that you’re a lovable human being is your base, your scaffolding & your power generator. Now you can make (or build) love.

The minute we generate this love and invest into another human being by doing a good deed or saying a kind word (or any other way we choose to manifest this love), we share a part of ourselves, an emotional part of ourselves. Like any investment, we expect return. We might not consciously think about it. But the truth be told, when we don’t get anything back in return, we get hurt and feel that we not only wasted our time, but wasted some inner part of ourselves. So, based on our experience we give up. Why? Because we don’t want to get hurt again.

We become very protective of ourselves and very cautious the next time we’re presented with an opportunity to “make” love.  Naturally, doubts about being lovable can cripple and strip the power to give love. It becomes a vicious cycle. Hence, it is crucial to understand three things.

1. You are lovable, despite people’s failure (and that includes your family & friends) to give it to you, because you’re generally good and you have a lot of things about yourself that deserve to be loved. You just might fail to see it.

2. Don’t expect to get love every time you need it. You can’t get what you want all the time and at the time you want it. Give the benefit of the doubt to the one you expect love from.

3. Don’t let debilitating thoughts cripple you: please don’t! There is self-criticism that is constructive. And there are doubts that are destructive. Be aware of the difference.

Don’t rush to un-friend people (in life or even on FB). They might be cynical, spiteful, angry etc. You feel hurt? That’s because somehow they get to you and make you question yourself: whether you’re lovable. Why do they do it? Because the chances are, they themselves feel unlovable or afraid to love, because they’ve been hurt. (like I said, it’s a vicious cycle) and you have the ability to break it. I assure you, you do.

What about trying to avoid those negative, cynical & angry people, in the first place? Why not simplify your life?

Well, you can’t. Such people are everywhere. You can’t live in a bubble!

But, more importantly: why avoid an opportunity to make love (not literally, of course)?

Loving someone who shows you love is easy. But the process of making love from nothing is truly divine. Believe in being loved and invest in love. Be patient, it will return. It will return with interest.

Make love.

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  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Hi David. I am very happy that the Rabbinate has engaged in TishaBeav as a time for baseless love in reaction to baseless hate. It is a good lesson!
    Can you please share some further education…
    When did TishaBeav become a formal fast and who origibated it? Was it immediately after the exile?

  • yankele says:

    I think love is an evolution. Traumatic choldhood experiences can make us feel unloved and unlovable and as a consequence make it difficult to feel love for others, or at least to accept within ourselves that is what we feel. As we grow and heal we can feel more love for ourselves and as a consequence we feel more love for others and the world in general putting us in a more positive space.
    loveyasall! (or at least im trying)

  • Mark Symons says:

    Jonny – Tisha B’Av became a formal fast some time after the destruction of the first temple, during the Babylon exile. With the return to Israel from that exile and starting the project of rebuilding the temple, people asked the prophet Zechariah whether it was still appropriate to observe the fast – as well as the 3 other fasts – (though to which he didn’t give a straight answer!) Hence the precedent for the question being raised today, that with the modern re-settlement of Israel, establishment of the State etc, is it still appropriate to observe Tisha B’Av as a day of mourning and fasting.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Mark yes that makes sense …. The articles I was reading were referring to the second temple and all the coincidental (hashgocha) events that occurred consequently. But what you’re saying makes sense. It is a first temple fast and the rest just followed. Thanks so much for the insight. Fascinating that it has survived as a tradition given your explanation.

  • Mark Symons says:

    Jonny – From what I’ve read, I think that it is unclear as to whether the fasts were observed during the period of the 2nd temple – different commentators/authorities have different opinions. They must have been re-instituted some time after its destruction.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Mark. I find many of the fast days complex in regard to differentiating between a tradition vs an instituted “holy day”.

    The fast of Av has been linked to so many events that occurred after it was actually commenced … well before those who initiated it could have known about the date.

    Yet it is spoken about as of it were some very modern commemoration of events. I get that is probably now traditional eg. linking it to the Shoah or Spanish Inquisition. Certainly in the time of the second temple one could imagine it not occurring as it would seem counter to the original intent…
    Thanks again for taking the time…

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