web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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 is also a columnist, freelance writer, and public speaker. He can be reached for questions, 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.

Current Top Story
A ZAKA team in action.
ZAKA Rescued Body of Abandoned Jewish Soldier Who Died for Ukraine
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

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)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

More Articles from Shaya Winiarz
Winiarz-022715-Kids

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

Winiarz-Shaya-logo

What fish-like characteristics does this month have that it should be exemplified in such a way?

We must understand the power and impact of our actions.

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.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: