Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Cheshvan 7
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And you shall love Hashem your God ... (Deuteronomy 6:5)
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself... (Leviticus 19:18).

Both of these statements are positive commandments. We might ask: How can a commandment demand that we feel something? Since love is an emotion, it is either there or it is not there.

The Torah does not hold that love is something spontaneous. On the contrary, it teaches that we can and should cultivate love. No one has the liberty to say: "There are some people whom I just do not like," nor even, "I cannot possibly like that person because he did this and that to me."

We have within us innate attractions to God and to other people. If we do not feel love for either of them, it is because we have permitted barriers to develop that interfere with this natural attraction, much as insulation can block a magnet's inherent attraction for iron. If we remove the barriers, the love will be forthcoming.

The barriers inside us come from defects in our character. When we improve ourselves, our bad character traits fall away, and as they fall away, we begin to sense that natural love which we have for others and for God.

Today I shall...

try to improve my midos (character traits), so that I will be able to feel love for God and for my fellow man.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

 

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