Dear Rabbi,

Here's my problem: Every single day we read about the obligation to love G‑d with our entire being. But that leaves no room to love people. Does love of G‑d have to lessen our love of humanity?


I once knew a man who thought he was a great husband. His wife disagreed.

He did absolutely nothing for her. He never took her out, never bought her anything, never helped around the house, and never did what she asked him to do.

Finally, she confronted him. He explained himself: "I love you dearly, more than anything in the world. That's why I don't do anything for you. I'm so busy loving you I can't possibly do anything else."

Such a husband wouldn't last too long. He says he loves her, but really he loves himself, and he loves the feeling he gets from having someone to love. If he truly loved her, then he would want to please her. He can't claim to love her if he never does what she wants.

Nothing pleases G‑d more than when His children love each other. So if your heart is full of love for G‑d, then that love will translate into loving your fellow, for that is exactly what G‑d wants from you.

On the other hand, if someone claims that they love G‑d so much that they have no space for loving others, this is a sure sign that their love of G‑d is really just a form of self-indulgence. If you love Him so much, why are you not doing what He wants? The same Judaism that tells you to love G‑d tells you to love the stranger, to love your fellow as yourself, to help the needy and to care for the broken-hearted.

You can't be a good husband in your heart; your love must lead to action. And you can't love G‑d without doing what He wants from you – starting with loving your neighbor.

See Do We Love Too Much? from our selection on Judaism on Love.