Iyar 20

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May 21, 2009

2 min read

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The usual translation is printed above and indeed is the way the verse is generally interpreted. As a result, the question is often raised, "How can people have the same love for others as they have for themselves? Isn't this demand unrealistic?"

If, however, we look more carefully at the original Hebrew, the question disappears. The Torah is stating here a definition of "love": ve'ahavta, the sensation or the experience of love, is lerei'acha kamocha, when you wish for another that which you wish for yourself.

What some people consider love may be nothing more than a self-serving relationship. They may "love" something because it satisfies their needs, but when the object cannot satisfy the need, or the need itself disappears, the love evaporates.

True love is not self-serving, but self-giving. We love only when we have as intense a desire to please the other person as to be pleased ourselves. Such an attitude calls for sacrifice, because it may be that we will have to deprive ourselves in order to provide what will please the other person.

As children, we are selfish. As we mature, we should develop a spiritual love, which is quite different from our childish physical love. This spiritual, other-directed love can withstand all challenges. As the Song of Songs says, Even abundant waters cannot extinguish love (8:7).

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