A Many Splendored Thing…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf

June 12, 2014 by J-Wire
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Love has occupied the minds of thinkers for thousands of years. Ever since the man/woman composite known as Adam split into Man and Woman, the mystery of attraction has defied the microscope of definition and explanation. What does it mean to love truly?

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

The English word ‘love’ derives from Old English lufu, Old Frisian luve, Old German luba, and Latin lubet and, interestingly, lubido.

The latter derivative has dominated most contemporary attempts to penetrate love’s veneer. Psychologists suggest that we fall in love because we’re attracted to someone because they are likeus – in a psychological sense. Others suggest that falling in love returns us to emotions of infancy and childhood. Physiologists describe love the result of complex neurochemical processes that occur in our brains when we are attracted to another person. Some biologists describe love as a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behaviour. (Author, Eric Berne wryly observes that love is a sweet trap from which no one departs without tears).

Yes, ‘love is a many splendored thing’ – and splendidly complex. But perhaps, in truth, love is quite simple, albeit powerful. Like, love is the spiritual energy that nurtures creation. When the Kabbala makes the latter proposition it intends it quite literally. Just like the air we breathe, the cosmos is a pulsating ball of energy – love energy. That is why all aspects of the universe tend to be ‘givers’ and ‘nurturers’. The earth nurtures the seed, plant, and tree.  The sun nurtures the atmosphere, the leaves, and the human body. And we nurture each other.

The essence of love is giving. True love is all about selfless and condition-less contribution to the life of others. But we have become confused. Western society has begun to identify love as ‘receiving’, rather than ‘giving’. The transactional ‘I will love you if you will love me’ has become the new democracy of emotions.  ‘Love’ is turned off like a faucet when it is not reciprocated. Love has become ‘what you do to me’ rather than a selfless act of nurture and contribution.

When people speak about love what they often mean is they want to be loved. To be loved evokes a warm fuzzy feeling of being wanted. Most don’t realize that the feeling also belies a quest for significance and meaning.  People rightly want to feel that their lives matter, that their existence is not an accidental act of ‘lubido’.  And being loved is a fail-safe way of feeling significant. So people crave ‘love’. But that isn’t true love, even though meeting this need is highly meaningful

True love means to act in the image of the universe and G-d. It means to be a nurturer, a giver, a selfless contributor to the life of others. The key word is ‘selfless’ –not the result of need, but being in sync with the energies of creation. And that is why the emotions are so heightened and the mind so alight when love is for real.

To find love is a lifelong quest. To be loved is beautiful. To love another is a viz major, a force majeure – an act of G-d.

 Rabbi Laibl Wolf, Dean, Spiritgrow – The Josef Kryss Center, Australia


3 Responses to “A Many Splendored Thing…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf”
  1. Bronwyn Van Dam says:

    I didn’t think this article was about gender. To love and be loved is universal. Rabbi Wolf you have captured the essence of unconditional love.

    • Perhaps not, but then what need was there to mention the “man/woman composite” in the opening paragraph? The word “composite” has certain connotations and it also excludes a vast range of people who do not fit this gender binary.

  2. Love is not limited to a man/woman complementarity, but also exists between same-sex attracted and non-gender binary humans. As one of these people I know that my love for my husband is very real. I also know that people who are not in a ‘traditional’ man/woman relationship are capable of being amazing parents, whether the child or children they are parenting are biologically theirs (from either one of the parents) or not.

    I think it does a huge disservice to humanity to look at love being just between men and women in an opposite-sex relationship. People of faith may also have same-sex attraction, or be gender diverse, and this does not diminish them in any way.

    Sometimes it helps to look a little wider and see that good comes in all shapes and sizes.

    And in all of that, if you believe in acts of god, then one should consider all forms of love (that are of course legal in civil law) worthy of celebration as such.

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