A Time For Love
Life is a love story. In the beginning, there is just you. In order to love, you need to withdraw yourself from the center and create a space for an other. Love starts only when you do that-move your self out of the way to make room for another person in your life.
In other words, if you are self-centered, you are not ready for love. If you are self-centered, you can't make enough space to nurture an other. And true love is not only creating that space within your life for an other, but giving him or her that space and respecting and maintaining that space. It is being a part of another life and removed from that life at the same time.
And once we're able to withdraw ourselves from the center and create space for an other, we must develop a keen sensitivity for just how uniquely different-just how other-our partner is. When we fall in love, we tend to see what we have in common and overlook the differences. That is what the expression "Love is blind" means. But true love is not blind. True love is seeing-seeing the differences, the otherness, the good and the bad. True love is seeing and still loving.
In Hebrew, the verb "to see" is directly related to the verb "to respect." And that is what seeing with the eyes of true love means. True love requires that we see and accept and respect those we love for who they are, without projecting our dreams and fantasies upon them. That is very hard, because we tend to try to fit those we love into our imaginary pictures of love. And if they don't quite fit, we try to alter them to fit.
But if we succeed in seeing not just what we have in common with those we love, but what makes us different, and if we appreciate and honor those differences, then we can take the next step, toward giving of ourselves to our partners. And simultaneously we must enable our partners to do the same for us, allowing them to make a space in their lives for us, allowing them to acknowledge and respect our otherness, and allowing them to give of themselves to us.
Discovering the Higher Self in Love
When G-d said to Abraham Lech Lecha, what was He actually asking Abraham to do? If this command really means “Go to yourself,” it seems to be contradicted by the remainder of the statement: “…from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s home.” Are these not the fundamental elements that make up a person’s sense of self? My nation, my birthplace and family together create the context for my identity and establish the vital ground for my sense of self. In addition, they represent citizenship, property rights, and inheritance, all essential sources of personal security.
What G-d is actually saying to Abraham is, “Go to yourself and leave yourself,” bidding him to seek himself and at the same time abandon everything that establishes and confirms selfhood. The very order of the statement verifies this, as it is not in chronological order. A person first leaves his father’s home, then his birthplace and then finally the country’s borders, not the other way around. Clearly, G-d’s intention is not just a geographical move, but also a spiritual journey, expressed in the order of psychological difficulty. Abraham is summoned to seek a new identity, a higher self-independent of nationality, land and family. Ready to let go of normative self-definitions, Abraham accepts this new identity. Unlike the usual person whose self, identity and security are founded upon and confirmed by nationality, land or family, Abraham’s new identity is founded upon his relationship to and love for G-d.
If you define yourself through your relationship to G-d, then G-d, the Eternal, becomes part of your personal definition and identity. In doing so, you discover your higher immortal self. Abraham paved the way back to mankind’s immortality and godliness. He accepted the greatest gift—the Divine Spirit immanent within humanity.
Abraham understood that you discover your higher self when you show your love for G-d.
The Problem with Soul Mates
The concept of a soul mate is very misunderstood these days. We seem to think that we can recognize our soul mates the moment we meet-love at first sight.
A student once said to me, "Don't you think I would know my soul mate if I met her?"
So I asked him, "Do you know yourself?"
How many people think they would know their soul mates instantly, when they don't even know themselves? And somehow they think also that an encounter with a soul mate is an event preordained in heaven, and therefore is accompanied by all kinds of signs from above.
Indeed, unusual occurrences can happen. But beware of signs; G-d is only testing you to see if you can make responsible choices.
If you are looking for some mystical assurance that your relationship was made in heaven, you should recognize that the only thing made in heaven is what you are going to build on earth. That is it.
(to read the previous article by Rav Aaron on soulmates, click here.)
By Author: Rabbi David Aaron
Rabbi David Aaron, Founder and Dean of the Isralight Institute, is recognized worldwide as an expert on the Kabbalah and is the best-selling author of: Endless Light