Ever seen a preschooler ask her friend for a snack? Girl A says to Girl B: “If you share your snack with me, I will be your best friend!” Girl B shares the snack, and they’re BFF’s. The next day, when Girl B’s mother forgets to pack a treat in her backpack, the entire friendship is jeopardized . . .

In chapter five of Ethics of the Fathers, the verse says, “Any love that is dependent upon a condition, when the condition ceases, the love ceases; but if is not dependent upon anything, it will never cease.1

It is normal to be attracted to one’s partner for an external reason, but when the relationship stops there, there is a problem. The example of conditional love given in Ethics of the Fathers is the love Amnon had for Tamar. He was attracted to her beauty, but their love did not go deeper. When he no longer lusted for her, there went the love.2

This verse can be seen as a metaphor for love of G‑d. It might be adequate to love G‑d for granting me children, or a house, or . . . fill in the blank . . . at first, but what happens to that love if my life doesn’t go exactly as I planned? (Which often occurs . . .)

While love can begin for an external reason, it needs to mature into unconditional love. This kind of love was exemplified by Jonathan’s relationship with David, where his absolute love for David allowed him to accept the idea that David would be king instead of him.3

Likewise, our love for G‑d also needs to mature into a bond deeper than any conditions or requests we make. And it is this essential connection between us and G‑d that will ensure that we have the kind of love that will not cease.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will practice loving my spouse and my children unconditionally.

(Adapted from Pirkei Avot, Kehot, p. 178.)