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You can care for, respond to, and respect another only as deeply as you know him or her.The effect of genuine, other-oriented giving is profound. "Mom," she said hesitantly, "I really appreciate your feelings, but, in all honesty, how can you say you love someone you've never met? At the end of the conversation, her mother said, "Darling, I want you to know we love you, and we love David." Susan was a bit dubious.A few years ago, I spoke to a group of high-schoolers about the Jewish idea of love. By focusing on the good, you can love almost anyone.
Erich Fromm, in his famous treatise "The Art of Loving," noted the sad consequence of this misconception: "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love." (That was back in 1956 ― chances are he'd be even more pessimistic today.) So what is love ― real, lasting love? What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others.A woman I know once explained why she's been happily married for 25 years."A relationship has its ups and downs," she told me.Likewise, the best way to feel loving is to be loving ― and that means giving.
While most people believe love leads to giving, the truth (as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writes in his famous discourse on loving kindness) is exactly the opposite: Giving leads to love. When an enthusiastic handyman happily announces to his non- mechanically inclined wife, "Honey, wait till you see what I got you for your birthday ― a triple-decker toolbox! Neither is a father's forcing violin lessons on his son because he himself always dreamed of being a virtuoso.
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