Monday, October 11, 2010

How do we love ourselves?

3rd of Cheshvan, 5771

'And you shall love your fellow man as you love yourself'. (Vaykra 18, 19)

It is really challenging to swallow that we are 'commanded'to love... After all, love is probably the
noblest of all 'feelings'. A naturalbond we experience toward certain people. Right?

Love is ultimately a feeling. But not just a spontaneous feeling. It is a feeling we can acquire when we do certain things and we develop a right attitude.

Let me offer two examples.

1. Love is 'care'.

The Torah would not order us to feel in certain way. But it can command us to 'take care' of others, as we take care of ourselves. When we actively care for others, we fulfill this Mitzva. Which comes with some extra points. When we take care of others, in return, we feed our own positive feelings. As Rabbi Dessler explained: We naturally 'take care' of those we 'love', but we also develop deep feelings of 'love' for those we take care of.

2. Love is 'acceptance'.
One of the ways I express 'love' for myself is by accepting me as I'm. If I have a healthy dose of self esteem and just the right amount of guilt, I will generally forgive my mistakes; I would overlook my own flaws and I would often find a good excuse to justify every error I've made. This might be the highest pick of love your fellow man as you love yourself.

Loving others as we love ourselves means accepting others as we 'naturally' accept ourselves. By becoming more forgiving, less critical and more understanding of others, as we do to ourselves, we are fulfilling this beautiful Mitzva.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024