Rabbi Shai Specht Sandler |Reno wedding

Living What You Love

We could all use more LOVE in our lives, and the more we give the more we get.

Samuel ibn Magrela was a Spanish-Jewish poet of the eleventh century who was vizier to the king of Granada. He was cursed one day in the presence of the king, who commanded Samuel to punish the offender by cutting out his tongue. The Jewish vizier, however, treated his enemy kindly, whereupon the curses became blessings.

When the king next noticed the offender, he was astonished that Samuel had not carried out his command. Samuel replied, “I have torn out his angry tongue, and given him instead a kind one.” The Rabbis rightly declare, “Who is mighty? S/He who makes his enemy a friend.” (Avot d’Rabbi Nathan 23)

We can take this statement even further and say “Who is mighty? S/He who makes her/himself a friend.” Lack of love for ourselves inhibits our compassion toward others. When we make friends with ourselves, there are no obstacles to opening our hearts and minds to others. Of course we have to walk a fine line between loving/valuing ourselves and being too self-involved/absorbed.

Loving oneself certainly doesn’t mean indulging oneself. Loving is an attitude towards yourself that most people don’t have, because most people know things about themselves which are not desirable. Everybody has innumerable attitudes, reactions, likes and dislikes which they’d be better off without.

Self Judgment is made and while one likes one’s positive attitudes, one dislikes the others. With that comes suppression of those aspects of yourself that you’re not pleased with. You don’t want to know about them and don’t acknowledge them. That’s one way of dealing with your-self, which can be detrimental to growth.

Another unskillful way is to dislike that part of yourself which appears negative and every time it arises you blame yourself, which makes matters twice as bad as they were before. With that comes fear and very often aggression.
If you wants to deal with yourself in a balanced way, it’s not useful to pretend that the unpleasant part doesn’t exist, I am talking about those aggressive, irritable, conceited tendencies.

The charge of “I’m so wonderful” or “I’m so terrible” is defused. We are neither wonderful nor terrible. Everyone is a human being with all the potential and all the obstructions. If you can love that human being, the one that is “me” with all its faculties and tendencies, then you can love others realistically, usefully and helpfully.

If we look at ourselves in that manner, we will learn to love ourselves in a wholesome way. Just as a mother, who at the risk of her life loves and protects her child… Become your own mother! If we want to have a relationship with ourselves that is realistic and conducive to growth, then we need to become our own mother. A sensible mother can distinguish between that which is useful for her child and that which is detrimental, but she doesn’t stop loving the child when s/he misbehaves.

This may be the most important aspect to look at in ourselves. Everyone, at one time or another, misbehaves in thought, speech or action. So what do we do with that? What does a mother do? She tells the child not to do it again, loves the child as much as she’s always loved her/him and just gets on with the job of bringing up her child. Maybe we can start to bring up ourselves.

When you Love yourself enough, you will move through your Heart to the negative pole, and begin the work of bringing all your negative thoughts, feelings, words, and actions to consciousness.

The energy of your Self-Love will begin the movement of these negative patterns through your heart, and toward the positive pole of your soul. It takes stamina, courage, strength, relentless attention, and great Self-Love, to move from inertia into momentum toward the positive pole.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

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Rabbi Shai

Rabbi Shai Specht-Sandler is a Jewish and Interfaith wedding and life cycle officiant, singer-songwriter, certified relationship and life coach, published author, educator and motivational speaker.

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