Contact Us

All You Need Is Love? Wrong!

All You Need Is Love? Wrong!


A wise physician once remarked: “The only medicine you need is love.”

Someone asked: “What if it doesn’t work?”

The physician replied: “Then you need a bigger dose!”

This cute Internet meme reached my phone earlier today, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Is itIs it true that love is the best medicine? true that the best medicine is love? For one thing, if you’re really sick, I truly hope you don’t listen to this advice—go to the doctor! I’m sure the meme creator wasn’t trying to convince us otherwise. All s/he was trying to say is that love is the most important thing in life.

But is it, really?

When people contacted the Rebbe with challenges in their avodat Hashem (service of G‑d), many times he suggested that they study a part of the Alter Rebbe’s Tanya, in chapter 41, which begins as follows:

One must, however, constantly bear in mind what is the beginning of [divine] service, as well as its core and root … it is not sufficient to awaken the love alone to “do good,” but at the very least one must first arouse the innate fear which lies hidden in the heart of every Jew not to rebel against the Supreme King of kings.


The “beginning, core and root” of our divine service is not love. It’s actually fear. Or maybe we can define it a little differently: restraint. Not focusing on what to do, but thinking of what not to do. Setting boundaries, knowing where we can’t go before exploring where we can and will.

Think about one of the most exciting moments in Jewish life. The moment two souls unite under the chuppah, starting a new life, adding another link to the beautiful chain of the Jewish people.

You’d expect them to talk about love, about “till death do us part.” But no. When the groom addresses the bride, he discusses kiddushin, “sanctification,” which really means that this union is going to be exclusively for them. Because in order to be truly mine, you need to be truly no one else’s.

Back to this cute Internet meme. It seems that this physician’s assertion that all you need is love is quite wrong, and perhaps even a source of many frustrations. Too often, we focus on love, on high hopes, but forget to talk about self-restraint.

We all love G‑d. And our spouses. And our family members and friends. Or at least we should. But when we think about those relationships, we should start thinking about the boundary, the what not.

Like telling G‑d that notBoundaries create safety only do we love Him, we’ll really try to avoid anything that He doesn’t want us to do.

And telling our life partners that we’ll try to avoid anything that will damage our relationship.

And telling our children that they are our top priorities, higher than our jobs or our hobbies, and if we’d ever have to choose, we'd choose them first.

Boundaries create safety, which enables the relationship to put down roots. Let’s create them and respect them.

Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the editor of Beit Chabad, the Hebrew edition of
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Buddy van Zutphen Nijmegen, the Netherlands August 22, 2017

Thank you very much, Mendy Kaminker for this inspiring article. Too often we lose ourselves in vague "Hollywood" emotions about "love makes everything possible" and we were all brought up at schools with ideas from the feel-good generations and we actually don't know what to do with it so we do nothing, although it all sounds nice and juicy. But the Torah is full with the DON'TS so that is actually a very good place to start! Proverbs 1:7 and proverbs 9:10 talk about a very healthy form of fear of G'd. This will eventually lead to love in your personal life!
So I strongly agree with you on this one Mendy Kaminker and don't agree on the comments that say that all you need IS love. Let us all not make the big mistake of the sixties which sang about love, love, love and believed in it, felt good by it, did not want to judge wether something was good or bad ( because judging was bad and love covered it all) and in the end completely forgot what G'd is saying about this in His Torah. Reply

Hilda M Arias Cao August 12, 2017

All you need is true love for Him. I know I have to fear Him, but I rather obey Him in all His commandments because I love Him and I do not want to cause Him hurt, pain and deceive Him as my beloving Father. He deserves not only to be praised, but to be obeyed showing Him that He's been loved back in return as well. His love and all His attributes is paid back with true love and thankfulness, not due to fear... Reply

Anonymous USA August 8, 2017

You wrote very well.
I love my husband but I also respect G-d's laws that is why I have kept the laws of mikvah. I restrain showing my love to my husband by keeping all the laws of taharas hamishpocho. Absolute love to a spouse is to absolutely keep all the laws of separation when required and on the other days of the month, when not required to separate, to express one's love in ways the Torah permits. This restraining and then renewal may lead to a lovely marriage. I suggest every married Jewish couple learn and keep relearning the laws of mikvah and keep all the details. Reply

Anonymous Australia August 8, 2017

The first sentence after 'Shema' is 'You shall LOVE'. This is prettty goood evidence that Hashem mainly wants love, not fear.
Dave Reply

Ed Schenk Columbus OH August 8, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

True, but there is path to walk before you get there!
Sh'mot(Exodus) 20:17 (CJB)
“Moshe answered the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come only to test you and make you fear him, so that you won’t commit sins.””
‭‭ (Exo)‬ ‭20:17‬ Reply

Anonymous August 7, 2017

Nice - Chessed and gevurah Reply

ED Schenk Columbus, OH August 7, 2017

Proverbs Proverbs 9: (JPS)
10. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Reply

Remi Enobakhare California August 7, 2017

Bottom line: love or fear But what motivates this restraint? The motivation for everything still comes back to love and dedication to G d (and secondarily, sometimes, family, friends, etc.).
G-d has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Reply

Jon Laubert Albq. NM, USA August 7, 2017

Is it not LOVE that leads the doctor to enter and persue delving into research, the doctor to study many years to serve patients, the teacher to study years and teach students, all to convey to and add to service of one another: All You Need is Love! And the Beetles. Reply

Related Topics