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Free Love

By Tzvi Fishman
7/16/2010, 12:00 AM

Rabbi Kook writes that the heart must be filled with love for all: for all of Creation, for all mankind, and, in ascending order, for the Jewish People, in which all other loves are included, since it is the mission of Israel to bring all the world to perfection. All of these loves are to be expressed in practical action, by pursuing the welfare of those whom we are bidden to love, and to seek their betterment and advancement.

The highest love of all is the love of G-d. When it fills the heart, this spells man’s greatest happiness. Consequently, one cannot but love the Torah and its commandments which are so intimately linked to the goodness of G-d.

This message is especially appropriate as Tisha B’Av approaches. Our Sages teach that the Second Temple was destroyed by senseless hatred. Rabbi Kook writes that the Temple will be rebuilt through gratuitous love.

Rabbi Kook teaches that hatred may be directed only toward the evil and filth in the world. We must realize that the kernel of life, in its inherent light and holiness, never leaves the divine image in which mankind was created, and with which each person and nation is endowed.

Though our love for people must be all-inclusive, embracing the wicked as well, this in no way blunts our hatred for evil itself – on the contrary, it strengthens it. “For it is not because of the dimension of evil clinging to a person that we include him in our love, but because of the good in him, which our love tells us is to be found in everyone. Since we separate the dimension of the good in him, in order to love him for it, our hatred for the evil becomes unblunted and absolute” (Midot HaRayah, Ahavah).

Rabbi Kook continues: “It is proper to hate a corrupt person only for his defects, but insofar as he is endowed with a divine image, it is proper to love him. “We must also realize that the precious dimension of his worth is a more authentic expression of his nature than the lower characteristics that developed in him through circumstances.”

To bring these lofty teachings down to earth, we can disagree with a fellow talkbacker and even despise his opinions, but we should love him all the same for his sincere and heartfelt concern for the Jewish Nation. A radical leftist may be willing to hand over chunks of Eretz Yisrael to enemies, while being ready to fight them on the battlefield out of his patriotism to the country. Or, to use another example, the evil actions of a homosexual or child molester should be loathed as abominations, but the person himself should still be loved for the divine image he shares with the rest of mankind. If, for instance, a rabbi or a politician succumbs to a pressing evil inclination and sickness of the soul that drives him to engage in sexual transgression, his evil actions should be despised, but this should not negate our love for the good that surely exists in him as well. For example, in my personal life, homosexuals have helped me on several occasions, in a variety of ways - in high school, a gay English teacher inspired my love for literature; a homosexual TV writer rented me his apartment in LA; and another kindhearted acquaintance lent me money when my funds were low.

Our love for mankind should extend to gentiles, and even Arabs as well. Not for the evil of their ways, which should be hated with an absolute hatred, but for the divine image that they share as well.

So let’s try to be a little more tolerant of each other, and love one another, even though the things we write can make one and other ill.