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True Love

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Love. It's a basic quality needed by everyone. Every person needs to feel loved and cherished -- by family, friends and, needless to say, by one's spouse. Love itself is an intangible quality. It's not what the other person does for you; it's the sentiment which is behind the act and the reason for it. It’s the life behind the relationship. There can be two "happily" married couples, both of whom "go through the motions" and daily grind of marriage -- but one couple shares a spark which is conspicuously absent by the other.

Yet the acts which express the love cannot be underestimated. Feelings of love cannot exist in a vacuum; they must be translated into deeds. "But I love you, isn't that all that matters?" is not an appropriate response when your spouse reminds you that you once again "forgot" to call to say you'll be at work late. Very early in my marriage I found out that "I love you, honey, but I'll let you clean up after dinner tonight," earns a quick ticket to the doghouse.

Why is a transcendent feeling like love so contingent on actions?
Why is a transcendent feeling like love so contingent on actions? While the question may sound profoundly philosophical, the answer is quite simple. If love is complete it consumes the entirety of the person. It cannot be relegated to any single aspect of one's personality -- not even the totality of one's feelings and emotions. Love means being all-there for the one you cherish. Only when love translates into actions -- when it is expressed by the eyes and the mouth and the hands and the feet -- is it all-encompassing and complete. 

We share a multi-faceted relationship with G-d: He is our king and we are His subjects; He is our father and we are his children; He is our shepherd and we are His flock. One of the most powerful relationships, however, is our husband-wife connection, a relationship which is characterized by passionate love. An understanding of the husband-wife dynamic can also serve to enhance our love affair with G-d.

"I love G-d and share a very personal relationship with Him," sounds very spiritual, but it is an imperfect affection. If our love for G-d is real and true then it must express itself in everyday action. It's not enough to have a "good Jewish heart" -- one's nose and one's stomach and arms and legs also need to be Jewish.

"Like a face reflected by water, so, too, hearts reflect each other." G-d's love for us is complete and eternal. But if we want this love to be revealed, we must perfect our love for Him by expressing it in the totality of our actions. For when "I am to my Beloved," then "My Beloved is to me."


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G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.