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Do We Love Too Much?

Do We Love Too Much?


short/ cir/cuit (elect.): an abnormal, usually unintentional, condition of relatively low resistance between two points of different potential in a circuit, usually resulting in a flow of excess current.

Random House Dictionary of the English Language

Do we love too much?

Apparently we do. Many marriages fail for a dearth of love; an equal number are suffocated by an overabundance of the same.

So desirous are we for connection, so hungry for communion with another human being, that we forget that for love to endure it must be complemented with an equal measure of restraint. So eager are we to give of ourselves to the one we love—be it a spouse, a child or a friend—that we often give without consideration of the needs and desires of the recipient of our love.

When passion is mitigated with a degree of inhibition, when intimacy is tempered with a modicum of reserve, love flourishes. But when all limits are betrayed, love burns out.

A love relationship can thus be compared to an electrical circuit. In a circuit, the attraction between the positive and negative charges creates a current of energy joining the two; the current meets with a certain degree of resistance as it passes through the circuit, delimiting its intensity. The natural tendency of this attraction is to seek the shortest possible route, carrying the highest possible current, to join the attracted charges. But should this tendency be indulged—should the “resistance” fall—the circuit will “short”: the current will escalate, ultimately causing the destruction of the circuit and the breakdown of the very connection which the current seeks to create.

The book of Leviticus speaks of the tragic death of Aaron's two elder sons, Nadav and Avihu.

After many months of labor and anticipation, the Sanctuary had finally been set up in the Israelite camp, and the Divine Presence came to rest within it. Amidst the joyous dedication ceremonies, “Nadav and Avihu each took his censer, and put fire in it, and put ketoret (incense) on it, and offered strange fire before G‑d, which He commanded them not. A fire went out from G‑d, and consumed them, and they died before G‑d” (Leviticus 10:1–2).

In his commentary on the Torah, the great sage and mystic Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar explains that Nadav and Avihu died from an overdose of love.

Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the high priest would enter the innermost chamber of the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, to offer ketoret to G‑d. This occasion—on which the most spiritual human being performed the most sacred service in the holiest place in the world on the holiest day of the year—was the point of utmost intimacy with G‑d attained by man. Nadav and Avihu were priests, but not high priests (though they would have been, had they lived to succeed their father in that office); it was a very special occasion, marked by special offerings to G‑d, but it was not Yom Kippur. But their thirst for intimacy with G‑d could not be satisfied by anything less than the ultimate. They wanted to get closer yet, though “He commanded them not.”

Human life is a love affair between the soul and her G‑d. Our passion for life is a craving for the “spark of G‑dliness” implicit within every one of G‑d’s creations; ultimately, everything we do is motivated by our soul’s desire to draw closer to our Source. So powerful is this desire that it can lead us to do things that are contrary to G‑d’s will—things that violate the bounds of our love and destroy it.

For our marriage to live and thrive, we must feed our passion for life; but we must also know when to hold back. As in every truly loving relationship, we must learn to love in the manner that our beloved needs and desires to be loved.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
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Anonymous London, U.K. March 20, 2014

Have Mercy.... One can only guess at the dramas gone through in the author's house before this article could be written...
The shoe fits equally well on the other foot however and brings to mind another old saying, "The one who loves the least controls the relationship." Something to bear in mind before you start beating youraelf up. Reply

WM GOLDSTEIN March 19, 2014

The Good Marriage. The secret to the Good Marriage is having plenty of doors! Reply

John Smith FL March 19, 2014

Nadav and Avihu were "stalkers"...... The "unhealthy" kind of love....?

I have heard others say Love is not a's an action....

Nadav and Avihu performed an action...according to words written

Our "souls desire to draw closer" a feeling.....or an action? Does Life begin in the heart.... the mind.....or Tefillin? Reply

ina new york city February 7, 2014

Do we love too much? I never understood Nadav and Avihu, & G-d's wrath, taking their lives as it was taken. This article focusing upon their desire to get closer to G-d, and learning
to love in the manner that our beloved needs,and desires to be loved, just doesn't 'click' for me.
It's a nice explanation, but doesn't satisfy me.G-d's WRATH didn't come about because of 'improperly loving'. Nope

I enjoyed the article, the Title, the illustration. and the comments Reply

Anonymous Auburn, CA December 28, 2010

"How are we to know and to be the judge of anothers needs."

It is called listening. To "know" another, one needs to carefully listen, not make assumptons.

If your lover doesn't know what she needs or desires, how do you then know if she needs or desires YOU? Have the respect and good sense to wait. Give her time and space to find her own voice. Or else assume she does not want you and didn't want to have to say it.

"That Nadav and Avihu died from an overdose of love may explain their error but does not explain the punishment. "

Actually it does, since it was their Creator that beforehand gave His Requirement. The story shows the seriousness of over-stepping another person's bounds.

Making a 'lover' of someone that does not openly want you is rape. The key to love is WAIT. KNOW the other person by LISTENING and then RESPECT what she/he says.

Do not over-step. Overstepping comes from our OWN desires and has nothing to do with real love of God or others. Reply

Allan Exeter December 2, 2010

And they dont know? what would you do if your lover doesnt know what she needs or desires? What happens when you are lost, and am struggling to sustain restraint, and respect and hold back your feelings? Reply

DANIEL Verona, Italy May 28, 2010

Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee; lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Prov 25:16

Too much honey can make you sick. Could the honey Solomon refers to not only be thought of as sweet words or material pleasures in life but also to love? Reply

Joel Retzloff Pensacola, FL/USA April 3, 2010

fatal glory Who is to say that this same fire doesn't engulf the high priest in the Holy of Holies? Perhaps it is merely that he is insulated by his obedience to Torah. Those who desire a closer contact with the Eternal, yet are not in obedience, are consumed by that which would otherwise elevate. This is the danger of Kabbalah, which is courted daily by those of the Western culture who approach without due reverence and preparation. Recall how out of the four sages, only Rabbi Akiva came back from the Throne unscathed. Glory can be a dangerous thing, as Aaron's sons learned. Reply

Charlie Roemer NYC, USA April 16, 2008

Excess of love? The idea that Nadav and Avihu died from an overdose of love may explain their error but does not explain the punishment. Of course all analogies are tricky, but in comparing this to human love, one must recognize that people can discuss their misunderstandings, recognize their excesses, and heal any damage to the relationship.
In the Torah we are told that G-d's response to a well-intentioned but misguided sacrificial offering is a summary execution. No comparison to an overabundance of love between humans can make sense of this for me. Reply

traci boca raton, fl April 1, 2008

In the last paragraph of your article you write that one must love the way another needs and desires. Isn't this a paradoxical statement? For one can need one thing and desire another. How are we to know and to be the judge of anothers needs. Ususally when one speaks of needs it is in fact desire, and perhaps those desires are needs and perhaps they are indulgance.
In our decision to accomodate in a loving way how would you suppose according to Torah that one can know which completes the circuit and which is a short circuit?
There are times where this can be obvious but in a loving relationship there are also times where this retraint can be based on the lens of the one making the decision. Reply

Anonymous November 2, 2007

yes, effort in loving To comment on the first comment above, yes, there should be effort in loving. Your heart should always be accompanied by your head (in creating restraint or thinking of loving kindness you gan give someone). Only then can a feeling of true love emerge, but it can never separate itself from action. Reply

Anonymous edmonton, Ab., Cdn. August 13, 2007

Effort in Loving? The words "concentrate" and "holding back" speak of something we do. Love should not feel like doing, it is a genuine immediate flowing not influenced by thought. If standing in the influence of Gods grace there is no effort involved, we should continue to work towards knowing when we are doing and God is present, speaking through us. Reply

Eli December 18, 2005

It is great to hear such words.
One question however: At the time of sharing one's love, if one were to concentrate on the necessary resistance and holding back, how can he manage to give then lovingly, kindly and graciously? Is this equalibrium possible, ie to give genuinely when giving, and to hold back genuinely when holding back? Reply

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