web analytics
December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

A Formula For Love?


Winiarz-051614

As the holiday of Pesach fades into the past, we presently find ourselves in the time period of Sefiras Ha’Omer. These seven weeks are a time of national excitement as Bnei Yisrael count the days leading up to the Receiving of the Torah. However, be that as it may, the word “sefirah” has over time come to connote aveilus as well. This is because Chazal decreed a month-long period of grieving during this time when R’ Akiva’s 2,4000 students died in a plague. This mourning entails, inter alia, a prohibition to shave, take a haircut, get married, or listen to music. Thus, at the same time that we anticipate the upcoming celebration of the Torah, we also lament the tremendous loss we suffered when just about an entire generation of outstanding Torah scholars was lost from our people.

Consistent with the Torah viewpoint that nothing occurs in this world without first being justly decreed on High, the Talmud famously explains what the grave transgression of these students was to have warranted such a harsh punishment. “Rabi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students… and they all died within one time period because they did not show due respect for one another.” Although nobody would ever attribute grossly inappropriate interpersonal conduct to the holy students of R’ Akiva, our Sages were nevertheless able to discern a small degree of civil malfeasance within these holy men which, by Divine decree, rendered them unfit to be the next link in the chain of our mesorah.

It seems, then, that this month is one in which we should be working on the 219th mitzvahV’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha – to love your friend as yourself. However, to be honest, this is quite a baffling one. How can the Torah command you to love somebody? One can easily hear the claim “If I already love him then the mitzvah is superfluous, and if I don’t love him – I can’t do anything about it! I can’t make myself love him!” Love is an emotion, not an action. Ostensibly, you either feel it or you don’t. So what is the meaning behind this puzzling mitzvah? It is axiomatic that if Hashem commands us to do something, there must be a way to go about doing it. Therefore, I believe that there must be a formula which one can follow to engender within himself a love of others. Come, we have a way to go.

As Voltaire famously said, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” If we are to discover a scientific formula for love, we must first define love. Ask somebody if he loves his wife. If he answers in the affirmative, ask him why. Most likely, he will begin to list for you all the good qualities that his wife has. She’s so dedicated; she’s so caring, she works so hard for our family, etc. What would happen then, if you asked this loving individual, “But doesn’t she have bad qualities A, B, and C?” If he is honest, he will be forced to concede that you are correct. Thus we see that in spite of his wife’s negative qualities, he still loves her. Now ask somebody why he hates his sworn enemy.  Chances are he will rattle off a whole slew of negative qualities from which this individual suffers. “He’s stingy, he’s grouchy, he has a temper, etc.” Yet, if you ask this hateful man if his nemesis has good qualities A, B, and C, once again he will be compelled by honesty to admit that you are correct. Remarkably, it seems that someone can have two relationships, both consisting of an awareness of his fellow’s positive and negative qualities, and yet one is a hateful relationship and one is loving. If this is so, then from where does the hate or love originate?

About the Author: Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (a.k.a. Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He enjoys public speaking and writing Torah articles and essays. He can be reached for speaking engagements or freelance writing at shayawiniarz@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Formula For Love?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ayala Shapira, 11, is fighting for her life after suffering burn wounds when an Arab terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail at the car in which she was riding.
‘Slight Improvement’ in Life-threatening Condition of Firebomb Victim
Latest Judaism Stories
Torah-Hakehillah-121914

Why is the tzitzis reminder on our clothing? How does it remind us that there are 613 mitzvos?

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The court cannot solely rely on death certificates issued by non-Jewish institutions without conducting its own investigation into the facts of the case.

Business-Halacha-logo

“I’m still not sure we have a right to damage his property,” said Mrs. Schloss. “Can you ask someone?”

Rabbi Sacks

Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim over Manasseh had nothing to do with age and everything to do with names

Slavery was universal; So, why was Egypt targeted in this object lesson?

Rav Akiva Eiger is assuming that the logic of the halacha that both the son and his mother are obligated to honor his father and therefore he must honor his fathers wishes first, is a mathematical equation.

The first requirement is a king must admit when he is wrong.

Reward And Punishment
‘Masser Rishon For The levi’im’
(Yevamos 86a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility

Because we see these events as world changing, as moments in history, they become part of us forever.

They stammer “I’m not Orthodox,” as if that absolves them from the responsibility of calling to G-d

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

She was determined that the Law class was Dina’s best chance of finding a husband, and that was the real reason she wanted her to go to college.

But who would have ever guessed that Hashem would unlock the key to the birth on same day as the English anniversary of our wedding.

More Articles from Shaya Winiarz
Winiarz-111414

We must understand the power and impact of our actions.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When it comes to passing on Jewishness we must follow the mother – for it is she who ensures it.

One who loves can buy a factory-made knick-knack for his partner, but a personal hand-made gift is infinitely more precious.

How can the Torah command you to love somebody?

Marror is the reliving of the bitter enslavement and matzah is the under-eighteen-minutes redemption.

What is the relationship between Purim and Pisces? In what way is Purim related to fish?

Granted, Hashem miraculously gave Betzalel unimaginable wisdom, but shouldn’t life-experience count for something?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/a-formula-for-love/2014/05/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: