Love. It’s powerful isn’t it? It can make a person overcome any physical or mental obstacle. Mostly that’s for the positive, like when you give away five hard-earned dollars to a person who needs it or happily support a drunk friend as he stumbles home. But love can drive a person just as powerfully toward negativity. It can make you give away a sexual experience you hoped to value, or shoulder the burdens of an abusive or addicted partner.
Love is a thing you give, a bit of yourself you mold onto to another. And a person who only loves others, who only gives to others, soon finds themselves empty, only able to see their love in the parts they’ve sunk into another person--a person who, if they’ve accepted ALL of their partners love, is unworthy, because a worthy partner returns that love in equal measure.
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ
אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא
זֶה כְּלָל גָּדוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה
Love your neighbor as yourself
(Leviticus 19:18); Rabbi Akiva said:
This is an essential principleof the Torah.
How do you prevent that? How do you immunize yourself from destructive love? Well, it’s kind of like an immunization. Give yourself a version of a virus so that when you recognize a part of it outside of you then your body knows how to properly react. The same is true of love, to recognize true and healthy love, it is necessary that you love yourself first.
One explanation taught on the posuk “love your fellow as you love yourself” is just that. It means to love anyone else, you must first love yourself. How else can one learn to recognize how they should be loved, and how they should love another?
How do you love yourself? The same way you love another. Accept yourself for who you are, understand that you’re not perfect but don’t let it stop you from striving for perfection. Know that it is YOU who will be the answer to your dreams, Give YOURSELF the experiences you value, and support YOU when you are in need. Most importantly LOVE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT.