The Concept of Love

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The Concept of Love

THE CONCEPT OF LOVE*

Dr. Zadok D. KrouzDD,DHL,PhD

“Love” is a term, which serves many functions; so much so that in many instances its usage lacks content. “Love” is a shout heard externally, a banner bandied about, which many people encircle and seek, but whichfew understand. Newspaper headlines continually project “unfounded hate” but never “unfounded love”? What of this love with its meaningful essence and character? And what of those persons who live such a love? On this, we hear nothing. And we may assume that the condition will not change so long as the slogan of love is presented as artificial jargon, rather then as as internal and essential value; or as a cosmetic and habitual motto, rather than as a fulfilling and multi-significant experience.

Thes research paper concerns itself with the concept “love” as it relates to humanity according to the following criteria:

(a its source, (b its character, and finally (c the way to embgody and express it, all according to the perception of Maimonides, may his name be remembered in Righteousness and Blessing. In accordance with the dictum in the Talmud saying, “Torah learning is greater when it leads to action, “let it be His Will that this treatment of the concept will be a steppingstone to achieve love in our thought, speech and actions.

A. THE SOURCE OF LOVE

Chapters 51 and 52 of Section 3 of Maimonides` THE GUIDE TO THE PERPLEXED discuss knowing the Almighty as the source from which the love of G-d, grows. We learn that the source of love is knowing G-d, and to acheeve it one must cling to the spiritual concept that is liarned in the comment, “Didn`t I explain to you that this is the intellect that abounds in us from the Holy One; it is the attachment” which which exists between us and Him? We understand the source of love as the concentration of man`s thought in G-d, or the knowledge of G-d.

Maimonides joins the religious ideal of attaining G-d as the source of love with the philosophic ideal of a life of reflection. True, the purpose of man is reflection, but the purpose of reflection reflects the source of love, the knowledge of G-d. However the fundamental questions are asked: What is love`s explanatin, and what is the meaning of the knowledge of G-d? And how can man, in general, arrive at the source of this knowledge as a prelude to love?

Regarding these questions, it is worthwhile consedering the central chapter of the system of descriptions, THE GUIDE, Section 1, Chapter 54. There, Maimonides relies on Moses, Our Rabbi, and says that he requested two wishes from the Almighty: one, “that He should show him His strength and His truth,” that is, that G-d should reveal His might before him; and two, that G-d “should describe Himself to him.” On these requests G-d replied to Moses that His might is incomprehensible, and His descriptions are His acts. It is impossible, then, to know G-d from the aspect of His might, although it is possible to know Him from the aspect of His acts. The descriptions of G-d which embody Him to us are discriptions of actions. Thus, all the descriptions of which the Almighty notified Moses were descriptive of actions: merceful, gracious, forbearing. The ways in which Moses requested their knowledge and by which he was notified of them were through awareness of His acts, may His name be blesed. The Sages called these acts “attributes” naming them collectively “The Thirteen Attributes.” (XXXIV:6-7)

Knowing G-d as the source of love is even called by the name “the pure thought.” This is learned from the words of Maimonides in THE GUIDE, Section, Chapter 21, “That the pure thought, according to it will be love; it is the essential knowledge of G-d Himself.” This direct attachment of love to knowledge teaches that the essence of the idea love did not, according to Maimonides, include the psychological eddect and the emotional experience. The source of the love of G-d is practical, thoughtful and not emotional. (See GUIDE,III:54 “`And you will love your G-d with all your heart` means with all of the strength of your heart.”) Essentially, Maimonides sought to free the love of G-d from its emotional content and to turn it into a pure achievement. This approach is expressed at the end of THE GUIDE.

B. THE NATURE OF LOVE

The nature of love is purposeful. This is expressed in the fifth chapter o Maimonides` EIGHT CHAPTERS: Man must activate all the strengths of his soul to know… and will place before him at all times one purpose, and it is the attaining of G-d, may He be blessed, according to the ablility of the person to know Him. And he will offer all his acts, movements, strengths and whatever else he has to arrive at this purpose, such that none of his acts will be vain acts, meaning an act that will not lead to this purpose.

Love bears the purposeful nature of similarity to G-d and walking in His path. This assumes the form of love of attainment whose essence is attachment to the love of G-d. Maimonides set forth the decree of Jeremiah, XIX:22-3

Do not praise the wise man for his wisdom and the strong for his strengtyh and the wealthy for understanding and knowing Me that I am The Almighty who does kindness, justice and generosity on earth, in which I delighted in G-d`s address.

Jeremiah does not stop with the words “understanding and knowing Me,” and this that did not suffice him for the verse to expain, is that their attacnment alone, may He be blessed, is that which venerates perfection.

The nature of love is also ethical; meaning that attainment of the knowledge of G-d is, in effect, awareness of ethical G-dly characteristics. And furthermore, the purposeful nature, which is in love, is an ethica purpose of the life of man in general. It is knowledge, the knowledge of G-d, though the purpose of this knowledge itself is ethical. Rational perfection os a characteristic of the love of man for G-d, and ethical perfection is a characteristic of the love of G-d for man.

Also, we discover an entirely new picture of Maimonides` thought on man and the nature of man`s love of G-d: Man does not trek towards the love of G-d in a straight line, but in a circular line. The way is that of ethics and knowing G-d, though the path does not end at this point. It returns and is overturned: From knowing G-d there develops a return to the ethical attributes, and the ethical nature of the love of G-d is in the awareness of the G-dly attributed. This means that attaining G-d is essentially attaining His works. Maimonides continues, (GUIDE,III:24) “It is not appropriate to praise only for the attainment of the knowlidge of His ways and His descriptions.” His acts being synonymous with His descriptions, we may therefore deduce that we must seek to know His acts in order to perform them. Again, the intention is to replicate the thirteen attributes in order that we may walk in their ways.

But, how is it possible that man will walk in the path of The Almighty? That is, how can man replicate G-d and imitate His deeds? How can we understand this characteristic of love, which is the very fruit of love? To resolve these questions, we must fundamentally distinguish between act and effect. In man, the act results from the spiritual effect, from some creation or quality within the soul, whereas the acts of G-d do not result from a spiritual characteristic or from any essence.

Maimonides stresses this in his discourse on the descriptions of the acts in general saying, (GUIDE, I: 54) “This matter is not one of attributes, but of deeds similar to the acts which come to us from the attributes.” That is, the acts of G-d are similar to ours, but there is no comparison in the causes inducing the actions. The acts of G-d do not result from any effect or spiritual characteristic, but they are as if they result from effects. The appellations “graciousness” and “mercy” and “slow to anger” are not understook as G-d loves or pities (or even hates). The understanding is only that the acts resulting from G-d result as if from love, mercy or hate. Now the term replication is understood: This characteristic of love os the walking in the path of G-d, the imitation of His acts. There os no replication from the aspect of effects or spiritual charactersitics. The replication is not in the spiritual realm, but in deeds.

To summarize, the nature of love is intellectual rationalism, an act approaching truth, which is knowledge of G-d; the nature of love is purposedul and reflective, knowing G-d so that we may walk in His ways; and at a certain level, love bears an ethical character.

C. THE WAY TO EMBODY AND EXPRESS LOVE

Theapex of process-reflective devotion is nothing other than reflective exertion toward the awareness o G-d. Reflective awareness is a processs of absorbing a reflective abundance from G-d by means of the active intelligence. This turns the human intelligence into a bridge between G-d and man. This bridge is dependent on man alone, in his intelligence and in his concentration of his thought upon The Almighty. Therefore, in the strengthening of his intellect, man will come to the love of G-d.

This reflection, however, is not only the theoretical, philosophical intelligence; it is also bound to the internal emotion of man. Intelligence, according to Maimonides, (GUIDE,III:51) is not only rationalistic speculation; it includes the sphere of feelings and emotions.

At a certain plateau love no longer remains in anything other than the beloved, and this is termed by Maimonides (Ibid) with the appellation “desire.” This love is already planted in the material of the desire in a way that perfects it, leading us to conclude that the true belief is the religion of love.

Man has a purpose, and it is the attainment of G-d. Man will attain G-d through his entire deeds. Moral and ethical conducts serve as a preparation and as a means for this purpose. Man will not arrive at the supreme purpose if he will not control his morality. If he will not restrain his desires, if he will not internally discipline himself, if he will not improve his understanding and will not strengthen his will, he will not arrive at the supreme ethical stratum.

In the YAD HAHAZAKAH, Maimonides explains, “The revered and fearful G-d commands to love and fear Him, as it is written, `and love your G-d, ` and it is also writtten, `The Lord your G-d you will fear. `” How is it possible to both love and fear Him? It is possible at the time when man will observe His acts and His marvelous creations and see in them His wisdom, which has no measure and no end. Maimonides states further, in the MISHNEA TORAH, (Book I, p.36) “The servant from love studies Torah and follows the Commandments and walks in the ways of the wise not cecause of something in the world, and not because he will otherwise see evil, and not in order to inherit good; but he does the truth because it is truth and resultantly ends favorably…” Then, man will love G-d with a great love, overflowing and mighty, such that his soul will be linked to the love of G-d, G-d as a unity, with all his deeds in the name of Heaven for the sake of the attainment of G-d and performance of the Commandments for their sake alone.

CONCLUSION

According to current and classical thought thought, love is an essential need of each and every indinidual, although the nature and purpose of love is sometimes misconstrued. The essential love is the love of G-d, and the way to achiece it is through the intellect. The ultimate effect o this process is the attainment of G-d and the doing of His Commandments. In closing, we cite the “blessing of love” (Recited in the morning prayer service before the SHMA) which, in for man and man`s love for G-d.

LOVE OF THE WORLD, OUR LOVE, OUR LORD, OUR G-D, YOU HAVE BESTOWED EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANT COMPASSION ON US. OUR FATHER, OUR KING, IN YOUR GREAT NAME AND FOR THE SAKE OF OUR FATHERS WHO TRUSTED IN YOU, WHO TAUGHT THEM THE LAWS OF LIFE TO DO YOUR WILL WHOLEHEARTEDLY, THUS WILL YOU FAVOR AND TEACH US. OUR FATHER, THE MERCIFUL FATHER, HAVE COMPASSION ON US AND PLACE IN OUR HEARTS UNDERSTANDING, TO KNOW AND TO REASON, TO HEAR, TO LEARN AND TO TEACH, TO RUARD AND TO PERFORM, AND TO DO ALL WHICH YOUR TORAH TEACHES US WITH LOVE. ILLUMINATE OUR EYES WITH YOUR LAW, AND ATTACH OUR HEARTS UNTO YOUR COMMANDMENTS. UNITE OUR HEARTS TO LOVE AND TO FEAR YOUR NAME S THAT WE SHALL NEITHER SHAME NOR REPROACH NOR WAVER, FOREVER. FOR IN YOUR HOLY, FRAND, MIGHTY AND REVERED NAME, WE TRUSTED. WE SHALL REFOICE AND FEAST IN YOUR SALVATION. IN YOUR MERCY, G-D, OUR FATHER, AND YOUR MANY KINDNESSES, SO NOT ABANDON US EVER. BRING US SPEEDILY BLESSING AND PEACE…FOR YOU ACT WITH SALVATION AND CHOSE US FROM AMONG ALL PEOPLES, AND BROUGHT US TOGETHER, OUR KING, TO YOUR GREAT NAME, ALWAYS INTRUTH WITH LOVE, TO THANK YOU AND TO PROFESS YOUR UNITY WITH LOVE, AND TO LOVE YOUR NAME. BLESSED BE THOU.OUR LORD, WHO CHOOSES HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL WITH LOVE.

* ????? ????? ?? ????? ?????: ,Medieval Jewish Philosophy ??? ????? ????? ?????? ?????? ??????? ?????????? ????????????????, ???? 1992 ?- Columbia University NY. ????? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??????????, ????? ?????? ????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ???? 1994, ????? ?? ??? ?????.

wonderful masterpiece by contemporary-classical composer Craig Armstrong, featuring Coucteau Twins lead vocalist Elizabeth Fraser

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