I love you! But do I, really?

“I love you”.

I’ve always found this sentence somewhat problematic. Just look at the sentence structure. “I” love “you”. I am the focus, I am the important one here. You are being complimented for the fact that “I” love you.

Some sentences are even more problematic.

“I love you because you make me happy”.

You see the issue here? “I” love you because of how you make “me” feel.

It’s almost like a transaction. You pay me, I provide you a service. You make me feel good and in return I pay you with my love.

The thing is, that G-d created us with a sense of self-importance. It’s crucial to our survival. Imagine if we didn’t care about ourselves at all – we wouldn’t be taking care of ourselves!

But the the problem is, that this sense of self can sometimes become too inflated. From remembering about ourselves, it becomes all about ourselves. And that can be destructive.

The Talmud (Yoma 9) tells us: why was the second holy temple destroyed? Because of wanton hatred, because of unprovoked animosity towards each other.

Because this is what self-centrism leads to. First there is some space for you, too. But then, it’s all about me, and even your mere existence can bother me.

The obvious antidote to unprovoked hatred is take even one step towards unprovoked love. To be compassionate and loving even when someone seems not to deserve it.

So often I talk to people who are involved in conflicts. Parents are estranged from their children; children, from their parents; Siblings, cousins, co-workers, friends, fellow Jews… the list goes on and on.

So I suggest to take even one step towards reconciliation.

Yes, maybe you are the wronged one, maybe you are the victim of wanton hatred.

Still, you can be the one showing wanton love.

To take one step. To send one email of love. Maybe to pick up the phone. Whatever. Just to do something that has only a “you” and not a single “I” in it.

“Barchenu Avinu Kulanu Ke’echad”: bless us our father as one. When we are one, we are attracting divine blessings. The more we increase in our togetherness, the more we receive G-d’s blessings.

And, if the holy temple was destroyed due to wanton hatred, it is our wanton love that will bring it back.

May all of us – individually and collectively – experience peace, love and harmony, and may we merit to the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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