Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Unconditional Love


Unconditional love is a love that has no bounds.  It is the love that one has for Hashem (G’d) and for babies.  Even from two month old infants we expect a return or reciprocity for the labor and love that we have given them.  Our love is even stronger when they smile at us from their cribs or are lying in our arms. As the child grows, love has to be returned with love and caring to make the giver feel wanted and good, and to show that her/his love has had an effect upon the mother, father, etc.  There is no one sided love, no unconditional love as we mature.

The word “love” is often used loosely and expressed to make the listener feel better.  The speaker or writer of this term means well and certainly means to show affection or goodwill to the recipient.  When the word is used between “lovers” it shows much caring and warmth and reassurance.  It can signify a close relationship between two people and is at times the first step in extending a declaration for a potential marriage.

Sometimes pet owners declare that a dog or cat has unconditional love.  The animal may be very loyal and loving to his master and the owner in turn exhibits the same emotion for the dog.  If  this very loyal and loving relationship deviates and the dog at a moment's notice bites the man and by chance takes out a chunk of meat, the unconditional love may disappear in an instant.

In our Jewish religion, we have learned that great men (and women) have given up their life for  love of “Hashem” - their beliefs of justice, righteousness, for other human beings, etc.  There are the holy men, the martyrs that we read about and recite in our prayers on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  One is about a man who was murdered by bits and pieces, his tongue was cut out, and yet he refused to give in to go against the love of G’d and his commandments. 

During the Holocaust in Germany/Europe, mothers and fathers sent their children to England to spare their lives.  They knew that they would lose the most beloved and closest humans in their lives, but their love for them was so great that they gave up their beloved progeny to spare their lives.  Greater love does not exist. 

In our modern age, individuals have offered a part of their body so that another can also live, even at a risk to themselves.  Examples are folk who donate a kidney or other organ so that another human being can survive.  In the United States army,  soldiers have shown unusual bravery to save their fellow servicemen even at the possible demise of their own lives.

Love is an emotion that cannot be bought with money or other earthly goods.  The deprivation of love can cause unbelievable damage to humanity, from infancy to old age.  Children who are raised mechanically with no warmth, affection, and caring, or the opposite, with rejection, punishment, and hatred, grow up to be the Hitlers, the Stalins, the Bin Ladens, the Ayatollahs of the world. They have feelings of anger, rejection, and frequently feelings of wanting revenge for the deprivations and helplessness that they felt was their fate.  The word mercy, caring, or love is not a part of their vocabulary.  They show their world what they can “accomplish” and what attention they can receive.  They are known for their deeds and what they have become.    The proverbial statement that they can get attention through their acting out, in the same way that others receive attention with positive actions.  There are those who turn against themselves. Love is only a word to these individuals.  It does not apply to them. Their thoughts turn to self destruction.  They feel so minimized and so angry that they will go so far as attempting or committing suicide.  They find no purpose in continuing, they do not feel worthwhile and carry the feeling of self hatred and annihilation to the last  degree.

As Jews and people of the book, the Torah, our religion, our learnings, we must recognize our enemies and our friends.  Love can be found and is there for us.  We must realize that what we bring to our family, our co-religionists, our friends and fellow human beings, is for the most part what we can expect in return. Unconditional love is for infants and for adults it is reciprocal. 


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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