Do you love your parents only because of what they have done for you? Do you love your children only when they behave?
Is the love that you have for your spouse performance related?
Is love selfish or altruistic? Is it reasonable to expect something in return for the kindness we show towards others? What are our true motives when it comes to love?
A profound insight into the core dynamics of all relationship can be gleaned from an intense dialogue that takes place between Moses and G-d in this week’s Torah portion.
The Jewish people on the back of just having experienced revelation at Mount Sinai have committed the cardinal sin of idol worship. Moses is on the mountain desperately negotiating with G-d for the pardon of his people. G-d is angry, he wants to destroy the Jewish people and rebuild a new nation. Moses challenges G-d by saying “If you will bear this sin [fine], but if not please erase me from your book”.
His words sound like an ultimatum. Perhaps even a threat. Surely this is not the intention.
In one of His most memorable discourses (Simchat Torah 5757/1986) the Rebbe shared the following insight. He explained that Moses is in fact challenging G-d to uncover a deeper bond that lies at the core of G-ds connection with his people.
In our relationships with others there are two levels: The functional side and the subliminal side. For the most part we concentrate and operate on the functional side. We show kindness to others and we hope that this will be reciprocated in turn.
However there are moments when our relationships are tested. This happens when the people to whom we show kindness are not appreciative. Sometimes they even reject us.
It is times like these, when we are forced to dig deeper, that we discover the subliminal level in our relationships which transcends performance. The basis of our relationships with our children parents or siblings is pure. It is d
evoid of any ulterior motives. It is not calculated. It is simple.
Yes it is true that our love is enhanced when we behave kindly to each other. However this does not constitute the basis of our relationship. The child remains a child, like the parent remains a parent irrespective of performance.
It is only that sometimes the child who is pure, senses that the love it is shown is conditional. Because of which he or she rejects this love, in effect, challenging the parents to a more subliminal love which is unconditional.
It is why, a child who rebels, must be loved, not less, but even more.