A few mornings ago I was carrying my little laptop with me and I felt a strong sense of …attraction perhaps? It was a joy to have it in my arms, to behold its compact shape and to allow my fingers to dance over its keys. I enjoy the variety of fonts, the colourful little screen and l rejoice in the fact that it allows me to write and express my ideas. Could this be love?
Don’t be offended by my violation of the sanctity of love. My emotion is at least accurately described by the Hebrew word ‘ahava’, as the Maharal defines it, the pull of the one who loves, towards the object of his love. There is no distinction between animate and inanimate or between fair and foul. For love is not sacred. It’s a tug, in the emotional sense, between two things. There’s nothing holy about it.
What is clear however, despite my previous demystification of love, (is desecration more accurate?) is that there are different types of love. Some lofty and some lowly, yet all share the same emotional mechanic of “the pull towards the object of love”.
The first category is the love which occurs between two people who have something in common. The similarity attracts them to one another and binds them together. The greater the sameness, the stronger the pull. I always find, if I turn up to some type of social gathering, I will gravitate towards the people that I am the most similar with and the less familiar the environment, the less fussy I am with who I will hang out with.
Aha, so why do men love women and women – men. Surely the genders share more in common with each other than with the opposite sex? Well there’s another component in love – completion. I love that which completes and fulfils me. This is where the common misconception that “opposites attract” comes in. Opposites do not attract, they actually repel, likes attracts. The only time differences (opposites) bring to love is when those differences complete me. Someone that shares common values and has strengths that I do not, someone that will allow me to reach my goals and realise my values in a more effective manner; someone that will allow me to complete myself will become the object of my love.
This could open up our eyes to the secret of prayer. Prayer is defined as “work of the heart”, and its obligation is derived from the verse which says that you should love Hashem with your entire heart. Prayer is the attraction I experience when I call out to my Creator who I share the same values with and I ask him to assist me, complete me in fulfilling those ideals.
This concept also solves the riddle of marriage- why is my husband/wife so totally opposite to me? The answer is simple if he/she wouldn’t be so different you would always remain an unfulfilled, half human. Your spouse contains all the talents and strengths that you lack. If you align your goals, your differences will bring you closer and closer together as you complete one another, if you don’t, they will drive you apart. Thus, love in marriage will be formed as very different people strive together for the same goals.
This sheds light on why the sages emphasise the need to respect your spouse. This is not just so that you can be a “nice guy”. Respect will allow you to appreciate your differences, instead of using them as ammunition for strife. Respect sends a message to your brain saying “Hey, I wish I had that quality, one second, if we’re on the same page, through you, I do!”
So the next time you feel the tug of love pulling at your heart, use it to build a connection that will propel you to a world far beyond the narrow line of self.