This may be the most important dvar Torah you ever read. It can change your life - if you let it.
What is real love? The Mishna in Pirkei Avos is quite clear on this matter. It says (Avos 5:19): "Any love that depends on something, when that thing ceases, the love will cease. But if it does not depend on anything, it will endure forever. What is an example of a love that depended on something? The love Amnon had for Tamar. What is a love that did not depend on anything? The love between David and Jonathan."
Everyone discusses the part about David and Jonathan. David and Jonathan were the best of friends. Jonathan, who was the son of King Saul, was willing to give up his chance to inherit the throne in order to protect his friend David. That's real love (and you'll notice that it is completely non-sexual). But who were Amnon and Tamar?
Amnon and Tamar were the children of King David, half-siblings. Amnon was hot for his half-sister. He was so hot for her that he "date raped" her. (The Book of 2 Samuel explains how he lured her to his room under false pretenses and abused her.) What does the Navi then tell us? "He took her, raped her and lay with her. Then Amnon despised her; the disgust he felt for her was greater than the love he had previously felt" (2 Samuel 13:14-15).
That pretty much sums it up. He got what he was after and he was done with her. He didn't need her any more. "Okay, I know what that's like; time to move on to my next conquest." The Mishna tells us that this is not unique to Amnon. "ANY love that depends on something, when that thing ceases, the love will cease."
False love is selfish. It's about MY needs. True love puts the other person's needs first. Rabbi Elya Lopian wrote of a man who said, "I love fish." If he really loved fish, he wouldn't eat them! He would put them in a nice aquarium with a water pump and a little castle to swim through. By eating fish he shows that what he really means is, "I love the way fish make me feel" or, to put it concisely, "I love me."
Be like Jonathan. Sacrifice your time and efforts for the good of your friends. That builds real emotional bonds. Don't be like Amnon, using others to satisfy your own desires. (And don't let others treat you like a fish!)
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