Love IS Not Enough

More on this weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness …” – Martin Luther King

It would appear that love is the highest of emotions, yet is it enough and should it be first in our priorities?

In the Torah; in the Shema, we are commanded to love God with all our heart(s), with all our soul and with all our might.

And there is no question that love brings joy, but is it enough as it can also bring tears?

One of America’s greatest and most well-known marriage counsellors, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach says that love is not enough when it comes to marriage, but that lust needs to be cultivated between a couple and especially cultivated by the husband. His book on marriage,  Kosher Lust: Love is not the Answer’ is in my opinion the best ever written on the subject.

He writes: “When men lust for their wives, and act on this lust in the proper way, almost any marriage can be made whole.”

So in marriage love is not enough, but this is even more widely true.

Love in bringing some closer can at the same time make others more distance and even make others feel rejected, which may be why that, in this week’s Torah Portion we are given the lesson that when love is likely to be the cause of conflict, it must take second place to justice.

To quote Rabbi Sacks on this:

“Love is partial, justice is impartial.

Love is for someone specific; justice is for everyone.

Love brings personal satisfaction; justice brings social order…

When it comes to the relationship between humans, there is an order of priority. First create justice, then express love. For if we let those priorities be reversed, allowing injustice in the name of love, we will divide and destroy families and groups and suffer the consequences for a long time…. 

without justice, love will not save us. It may even destroy us.

It seems we are in a world increasingly descending into hate, into fear and isolation and totalitarianism. We can try to heed Martin Luther King and shine light and love into our world, but perhaps first we need to seek justice.

How?

Perhaps we should start by shining light and love and truth on the greatest injustice that exists in our world today.

And then after exposing this injustice with light and love and truth, we can then try to bring justice to bear. And maybe with some success, and some justice we might see a love grow that might truly expose other injustices and bring much light and truth to bear.

And what is this ‘the greatest injustice’?

Abortion. The murder of the most vulnerable and innocent of humanity, the unborn child.

The numbers defy belief at 50 million+ pa worldwide! Nothing else comes close, yet perhaps all other injustices feed on this, the greatest injustice.

If we can’t see injustice here, how can we hope to see it elsewhere?

Yet, here’s the rub. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for some 35 years and while I have seen individual lives saved, I deeply despair that we are capable of rectifying this the greatest injustice.

I see only One Hope and One Man, the Messiah Yeshua ben Yosef.

We need him now, we need his return as Messiah ben David; in the full power and authority of the One God Yehovah to bring restoration, redemption and rectification to this world.

I don’t believe there is any other option or hope for this world as it sinks further into ignorance that breeds hate and division.

We should never give up as we are called to do ‘tikkun haOlam’ (Repair the World), and if we know the One True God of Israel and His Truth we would want to be found faithful, yet I don’t think we can do it without divine intervention.   

Acts 17:31 “… because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Revelation 19:11: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war.”

So this Shabbat and every day I pray, Come Lord Yeshua, come!

For more on ‘tikkun haOlam’ please see my article Amazing Grace on   ‘building the world with grace’ (Psalms 89:2). – http://circumcisedheart.info/Amazing%20Grace.pdf

Humility and taking up space:

A common definition of humility is ‘The state or character of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance.’, but this is incomplete as I will endeavour to highlight. It is also vital not to associate the word humiliation with humility as they really have no correlation.

Firstly though, as a human trait that rejects arrogance, humility is a vital foundation. Typically arrogance is seen in people who want power and control over others. But it can also be seen in people whose arrogance in their own superiority means that their opinion of others is so low that they want nothing to do with them.

Therefore, the failure to see the uniqueness and value of other people is in a sense a form of arrogance.

And the opposite of arrogance is humility. At its most basic foundations humility is an appreciative and thankful attitude that results in the awareness that everything we have is a gift, and that other people are equally important.

In this week’s Torah Portion, the Torah is speaking about a king and it specifies three temptations to which a king in ancient times was exposed. A king, it says, should not accumulate many horses or wives or wealth – the three traps into which, centuries later, King Solomon eventually fell.

Then it adds:
“When [the king] is established on his royal throne, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this Torah … It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to be in awe of the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not feel superior to his brethren or turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time in the midst of Israel.” (Deut. 17:18-20)

If a king, whose subjects are bound to honour, is commanded to be humble – “not feel superior to his brethren” – how much more so the rest of us. Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time, was “very humble, more so than anyone on the face of the earth” (Num. 12: 3). Was it that he was great because he was humble, or humble because he was great?

Alan Morinis, the author of Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar’  has some great wisdom to share on this topic. Here are a few of his thoughts on humility:

“Being humble doesn’t mean being nobody, it just means being no more of a somebody than you ought to be.

Humility is associated with spiritual perfection. When humility effects depression it is defective; when it is genuine it inspires joy, courage and inner dignity.

Mussar (Jewish ethics – see an introduction here ) teaches that real humility is always associated with healthy self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem leads to unholy and false feelings of worthlessness.

Being humble doesn’t mean being nobody, it just means being no more of a somebody than you ought to be.

If a leader as great as Moses was so humble then there is surely more to humility than the shrinking meekness we ordinarily associate with the term.

Too little humility — what we’d call arrogance or conceit — is easily seen as a spiritual impediment, but the opposite is also true. Too much humility also throws a veil across the inner light of the soul.

Humility is limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others….

This definition also fits Maimonides’ concept that humility is not the opposite of conceit, which would be self-effacement, but rather stands between conceit and self-effacement. Humility is not an extreme quality, but a balanced, moderate, accurate understanding of yourself that you act on in your life. That’s why humility and self-esteem go hand-in-hand.

When you understand humility in terms of the space you occupy, it’s important to clarify that we are not all meant to occupy the same amount of space. Some people appropriately occupy a lot of space, as would be the case with a leader — think of Moses again. But if a leader laid claim to even more space than was appropriate, they would be a Pharaoh …

Humility is the first soul-trait to work on because it entails an unvarnished and honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

… Without humility, either you will be so puffed up with arrogance that you won’t even see what is really needing some work, or you will be so deflated and lacking in self-esteem that you will despair of being able to make the changes that are lit up so glaringly in your self-critical mind.” – from https://www.aish.com/sp/pg/48906552.html

I find it insightful to consider not just that arrogance is a rejection of humility, but that not ‘taking up less of the space you should be occupying’ also displays a lack of humility. I can understand why, but it then poses the question, how do you know that you have failing to ‘occupy the space’ you should be. It would seem much easier to recognize when you are arrogant and ‘feel superior’ to others, but not so easy to see when you are not being all that you can and should be.

I have often felt that I have not exercised the gifts that God has given me to the full extent possible and made the impact that I could and should have made on His behalf, and yet to even think such a thing might simply be an example of an arrogance of thought, in imagining myself more capable than I am and having more wisdom to share than is the reality.

So clearly, some introspection is always called for, but seeking to do ‘tikkum haolam’ (to help to repair the world),  should never be seen as a failure or as arrogance, at least when the success of such endeavours is left to be judged by the Almighty. That is, perhaps I have occupied my ‘space’ to a fair and reasonable extent, but my error has been in not being able to see the full picture as I was not meant to – seeing the full picture of the contribution is a vision only given the God Himself.

Regardless of where you currently stand on your life’s journey, I think it a valuable exercise to try to be introspective occasionally and reflect on your ‘space’ and place, on your own sense of humility.

And perhaps there are some very trustworthy people in your life who can help you to assess the this soul-trait in you and whether it is in need of some correction, one way or the other.

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy:

Joy is more than happiness, joy is a living, breathing dancing and singing thing! And joy is to be shared, to be embraced with others.

Yet joy is often rejected – to seek it we need only to open the Book of Psalms and to deeply breath the words of King David:

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning …
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Yehovah my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:6-13)

 A life lived well is a happy life, but joy is not in life; in long life; it is in the moment. To be joyful you need to live in the moment and when we do and we experience such joy it should make us want to dance and sing!

King David danced; King David’s words sing, they sing of joy, a joy that comes from deep within, from knowing Yehovah and His great love.

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light is sownfor the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalm 97:1, 8-12)


Look past the calamity and confusion of this time for a moment; look at the beauty of this world and all her people. Consider every breath as a breathing in of the spirit of God, as it is the Almighty who creates all including the air we breath and it is His love that moves the sun and stars and this earth’s rotation that provides the atmosphere that fills our lungs with life-sustaining oxygen.

You and I are here because Someone wanted us here – yes, your parents may well have wanted you as well, but the Creator wanted YOU, not just a new baby, a child, an anybody, but the unique, one and only you. He wanted you in this world and He wants you to grow to be all that He created you to be.

So celebrate that! The soul that seeks Truth and sees His Love is a soul that sings.

One of the important aspects of last weeks Torah Portion was gratitude. Having gratitude leads to being thankful and a thankful heart is one that can be quick to embrace joy when it presents itself in that short moment of time.

And in this weeks Torah Portion, the Israelites are commanded to be joyful: And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, …”(Deut 12:12)

It is amazing to think that the Almighty wishes you to find joy. Not just a good and safe or healthy life but a life of joy. In fact, the very failure to be joyful in living a life of righteousness and being grateful and joyful thanks to His Providence and abundance actually brings a curse “… Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness out of the abundance of all things” (Deut 28:47).

A failure to be righteous and to rejoice brings a curse and leads to decadence and decay. 

Seek joy. Open Psalms and read and sing.