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Loving and giving

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When I was about 18 years old I came across Eric Fromm’s little classic, The Art of Loving. I was probably a little disappointed that it didn’t offer any dating advice. However, there was no disappointment in his incisive analytical and psychoanalytical presentation of the origins of love as well as the different kinds of love from motherly to brotherly, erotic to love of God.

What really caught my imagination was his definition of love as an expression of giving: “In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power.… I experience myself as overflowing…alive, hence as joyous”. Giving, Fromm says, is more joyous then receiving because it is the expression of my aliveness, my vitality, my humanity. This spoke to me because giving is the very essence of loving in Jewish tradition. The very word for love in Hebrew, Ahava, has the same root and connotation as the word for giving in Hebrew, Hav.

One of the earliest biblical stories describes how Isaac married Rebecca and only then loved her. The early 20th century Talmudic Scholar, Rabbi Dessler, says this indicates that giving precedes and produces loving. In the romantic........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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