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Is Love Overrated?

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In modern morality, love is the ultimate virtue. Love is valued above all things, supposed to be the answer to all problems, and ascribed with almost magical powers. But unfortunately, this has caused many people to put too much focus on love, without even knowing that they were doing something wrong.

If a man told you he was marrying a woman for her money, that would be considered wrong. But why is that? If she has what he wants, isn’t that the perfect basis for a marriage? But of course, it is wrong.

It is wrong because if you marry someone for their money, then you are not marrying them; you are marrying their money. Essentially, you are saying “I don’t want you. I want money. And I will use you for money.”

To marry means to open ourselves up and share our lives with with another human being with their own personality and quirks. But if you don’t want that person, but only their money, you are not opening yourself to them.

The same logic, however, should be applied to love. We should not marry someone for love. Love is a thing that we want, but marriage is about much more than “things.” Marriage is about the person.

What love and money have in common is that neither of them are a person. We should marry for the person, not for love.

Love is important. But it’s never more important than the person.

When we make marriage about an exchange of love and forget how to connect to the person themselves, beyond their love, we don’t bond as a couple should, and remain alone. But when we do connect with each other, we create a bond that will last forever.

The Real Genesis

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The stories of the Bible are fairly well known. But the anglicized title of the first book of the Bible; Genesis, reveals something interesting. Genesis means the beginning. But the book of Genesis was not the beginning.

The Bible begins with “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Meaning, God created the world in the beginning. The creation was not the beginning, it was in the beginning.

Many times, when we study the Bible, we forget how it all started. Before there was a world, God was alone and decided to go ahead and create the world. This means that there is something he wanted for himself that he gets by having a world. That desire was the beginning.

The Bible isn’t here to tell us how to live our best lives. The Bible is here to tell us what God wants from us.

What God Needs To Hear

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Why do we repeat the same prayers every single say?

Is it really necessary to proclaim that God is One three or four times every day of year?

It is.

It’s like when a wife asks her husband why he didn’t say “I love you.” Many men would say “you know I love you, why do I need to keep repeating it?”

The wife would answer “because I like to hear it.”

The words we use in the prayers are what we know God wants to hear. He doesn’t need to be reminded every day that he is one. He needs to hear it from us.

The Wisdom of Billy Joel

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“Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, But it’s better than drinkin’ alone”

These words were written by Billy Joel in his classic song The Piano Man. But what can they teach us?

There is Loneliness, and then there is Aloneness.

When someone is lonely, they can go to the bar and be with others. But then there is Aloneness. Loneliness can be shared, but Aloneness can’t. When we get home from the bar, then we are alone, and that is hellish.

When we feel alone in the world, we can’t function as healthy humans. Even our immune system shuts down.

There’s only one way to avoid Aloneness. That is intimacy.

Today there are many who feel alone even though they are happily married. They like each other, they are attracted to each other, but the intimacy is missing and therefore they both feel alone. Intimacy is the only thing that can make a person not Alone.

Unfortunately we have lost the art of intimacy.

Some Investing Advice…

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It’s a great feeling to know that your money is working for you. I remember this old commercial when they first introduced dishwashing machines. It was of a woman relaxing on a recliner with the dishwasher running in the kitchen and she says “I’m doing my dishes!”

When you do a Mitzvah like, for example, saying the blessing on a cookie, what you are doing is giving a final divine purpose and fulfillment to so many things: the dough, the flour, and the water and the sugar and whatever it is that went into the cookie. All of it is now experiencing its elevation into the realm of godliness because it now has served the godly purpose. But even more than that, the flour came from a company, and now that company has participated in a Mitzvah and has been made holier. The farmer who grew the wheat, the tools he used to plow the field, the manufacturer of those tools, even the earth itself, has now produced godliness.

Everything that contributed to the existence of that cookie has now realized its potential godly purpose.

But when we give Tzedaka, they domino effect of holiness is even longer. It can change a person’s life and help him do all kinds of Mitzvahs, including giving Tzedaka to others. When you give Tzedaka, your money goes to work for you. You can sit back and say “I’m changing the world!”

Small Heroism – There’s No Such Thing As A Wasted Life

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There was a man who struggled terribly with thoughts of suicide. He fought them, but tragically, after six years of fighting he succumbed and ended his life.

His mother was beside herself with grief. But more than that, she was angry. In her frustration she kept saying “what a wasted life!”

But she was wrong.

He was suicidal for six years before he actually killed himself, which means that for six years he fought this monster. He fought like a lion, and for six years he was successful in refusing to kill himself. To stand up to such a demon is not easy. But every time he refused he became holier.

But not only did he get holier, every time he refused to kill himself he weakened that evil impulse for everybody in the world. Because he said no over and over again to the temptation of killing himself, everyone else who struggles with this affliction will now have a little easier time saying no to that temptation. Every time he said no, the demon of suicide shrunk. We all live in the same bubble and when a person does something good on one side of the world, it helps everybody in the world be better.

A man who refuses to kill himself for six years despite the temptation is a hero. Even though after six years it wore him down.

Imagine a soldier defending a position against the enemy. He defends it successfully for six years but eventually he runs out of bullets and falls. Was that a wasted life? Certainly not.

The man’s a hero.

In our lives, we all tend to underestimate our own contribution to the world. You don’t have to win it all to make the world a better place. Every small victory against the temptations of evil, even just a delay, makes the world a better place.

The Wrong Reason To Get Married

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For the last 80 years or so people have decided to marry based on how much they love each other. But there’s a problem with that, because love and marriage do not “go together like a horse and carriage”. It’s not true.

If you’re not in love with marriage, if you’re not enamored with marriage, if you don’t believe in marriage, and you don’t want to be married, then don’t, no matter how much you love someone!

A couple came to me and said “we’re madly in love with each other, so we want to get married.” I said “but then it’s too late!”

The love came before the marriage, and that doesn’t work. You have to be committed to the idea of marriage before getting married.

So, if a man says to a woman, “you know marriage is not my thing. But now that I met you, and you are so fantastic, I’ll marry you!” she should not marry him. Don’t do it. There will be moments where he won’t think you’re that fantastic, so don’t put all the weight of the marriage on you being fantastic.

Marriage has to stand on its own merit.

The Real Miracle of Purim

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The miracle of Purim, being natural and “enclothed” in natural events to the extent that even God’s name is not mentioned in the Megillah, is a turning point in Jewish history. It is where God became real enough that we don’t have to refer to him to know that he’s there. Without even mentioning God’s name, we have a book of Torah: Megilas Esther. It’s one of the books of Torah but it doesn’t have God’s name.

That is a great achievement. God has become so real to us and our relationship has gotten stronger after the destruction of the Temple, not weaker.

On Purim we realize something about our relationship with God and something about ourselves: it’s like if a man was running to get a doctor for his wife because she isn’t feeling well, and when you stop and talk to him he admits that he doesn’t really love her particularly at this moment, and they’re not getting along so well, and yet he’s running to get a doctor. If you question him and say “what’s the hurry? if you don’t love her, take your time!” He would simply say “what’s love got to do with it? my wife needs a doctor!”

Our relationship with God is similar. Sometimes we love him, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes he loves us, and sometimes he doesn’t; like when there was a destruction and he threw us out of the land.

But when he needs me to keep Shabbos or put on Tefilin, we are there for him. Whether we love him or not right now, he’s our God, and if this is what he needs from us, we are there.

When God Is Angry At Us

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Once, I got a call from a man in Israel. I didn’t know him, and he didn’t know me, but he told me that his twelve-year-old daughter somehow became convinced that God was angry at her. This was causing her great sadness and depression and was ruining her life. Suddenly the man put her on the phone and told me to “just talk to her.”

I didn’t know what to say. “God is angry at you?” I asked.

She said “yes.”

So I said “I’m so jealous! You could do something to get God angry?? How did you become so important? You’re only 12 years old and you can anger the creator of the world! That’s incredible.”

After that conversation, her problem seemed to go away.

The problem is, we got it backwards. If God is angry at us, that is a tremendous compliment! The fact that God cares enough about what we do to be made angry means that we have a connection with the creator of heaven and earth. We matter to him. He needs us.

God wouldn’t get angry at us for not doing something he doesn’t even need. And the fact that he needs us is more meaningful than anger, hate, or even love. It means that we are truly connected.

The Meaning of Physical Attraction

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According to some of these articles about the male-female attraction from a scientific perspective, what attracts a man to a woman is some intuitive feeling that the genes will allow the continuation of the species, or that you will have healthy offspring, and that’s what attracts you to each other. But that is inaccurate, and so impersonal.

That makes an intimate relationship mean nothing more than “I think with you I can have a healthy child.” That is so embarrassing. That’s not human relationships.

A man and a woman are attracted to each other because they can complete each other. A man needs to grow by expanding from his own little world into someone else’s world, into a bigger world, and to a greater world, and a woman needs to grow by being more inclusive, including more of reality, more of the world into her own existence. The man extends his existence and the woman encompasses more into her existence. That’s the difference between male and female. That’s why men say women are alluring, as they drew draw you into their world. And man is aggressive. He wants to extend his existence into other areas and other realities. Now the man wanting to expand or extend his existence finds the welcome that the woman presents very appealing. Its irresistible.

So the attraction really begins, as the Torah says, with the woman’s capacity to absorb or to encompass within herself another human being. Men find that irresistible not because of the children they’re going to create, but because of the bond they are going to create. The man becomes a complete being when he is giving and responding to this feminine welcome, to this to this hospitality, and the woman becomes a fuller and a more complete human being when she has more input into her reality and into her world. That’s why it’s important that a man and a woman, when they get married, become husband and wife. Because that kind of a bond doesn’t happen unless the man becomes a husband and the woman becomes a wife. If they remain men and women then they’re still on the prowl and they’re still looking to become complete. But a husband and a wife have completed each other’s existence and that’s what we mean by “live happily ever after.”

This doesn’t mean there won’t be any problems or arguments. It means you are now complete beings. Now fight your battles, go through your arguments, and put up with each other as best you can, but you’re not seeking anymore. You’re not unfulfilled. Now the problems you have are problems you should have as a man and a woman having problems with each other. These are problems you don’t need and you shouldn’t have.

The real significance of the male-female attraction is the completion, because without each other we are incomplete. We are half beings.

That’s a lot more romantic than “I think we could have healthy children and survive the next ice age.”