Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


The Beauty and Expressions of Love in Judaism and Humanity

In Prayers, in Songs and in Poetry

In our daily Schema prayer it is stated:  You shall love G’d with all of your  heart,  your soul and your might.  Bechol levovko, ufchol nafschecho, ufchol meodecho (phonetically written). If we adhere to this command we will also love our brethren and our fellow man, since we are all created in the image of Hashem.  Hine ma tov umanayim schevet achim gam yachad:  See how good and beautiful when brothers hold hands. 

Love is shown in many ways.  When the tired wife prepares a delicious Schabbat meal and sets a festive table, she expresses her love to her husband and family by pleasing them and making them happy. In the play “Fiddler on the Roof,” the husband Tevye asks his hard working wife: “Do You Love Me?”  She responds with the words that she took wonderful care of him and his needs by pointing out she did all that for twenty-five years.  The reasons are obvious!

The story of Naomi and Ruth is another expression of love between two women, a widowed daughter-in-law and her mother in law.  Naomi helps Ruth by accompanying her to the place where the older woman must move: “Wither You Goest I Will Go.”

We show our love when we give to a person who cannot return the favor.  We show love and caring when we make a Schive visit and comfort the bereaved, when we visit the ill, and give help to folk who have difficulty helping themselves.  Caring and showing it is one of the essential ingredients in love.

“Ayn ma mi li,” etc.  is a very poignant way of expressing a serious thought re caring.  It is important to take care of your own being.  However if you only think about yourself and not of the needs of others: Who are you?!  The human being, the self lover, is a narcissist , uncaring, and selfish.  He or she is an individual who cannot empathize with other person's needs and desires.  He or she ultimately is not a well liked person.  His world twists around himself, his pleasures and his comforts.  He or she makes a poor companion, a poor spouse, and an uncaring parent.  He or she only sees the shortcomings of others and is defensive if a major or minor flaw is expressed.

Love is beauty; it can be felt by all those who can give and receive it.  One such person, a poet, the late  Elizabeth Barrett Browning, expressed it so beautifully to her husband Robert Browning whom she adored:

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.  I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.  For the ends of  being and ideal grace, I love thee for the level of everyday’s most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.  I love thee freely, as men strive for right.  I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.  I love thee with a passion put to use in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.  I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints,  I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life! --- And if G’d choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”


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

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